Alexander McQueen is back on the Paris Fashion Week schedule. Last time when Sarah Burton presented her fashion show in the city, Europe was at the verge of full-scale pandemic. This season, the designer chose to remind the fashion audience about the sharpness and excellence of her tailoring, and the expression of a darkly explosive imagination that is well and alive in the McQueen ateliers in London. “It was looking at anatomy, the anatomy of tailoring,” Burton said backstage. “Almost back to the beginnings of McQueen on Savile Row. It was a progression, which starts very kind of straight and structured. And then it begins to flash and twist and turn upside down. It’s like how you begin with a garment – you have to know that there’s a way to construct it, the bones of it, before you can dissect it and subvert it.” Naomi Campbell, in a black jumpsuit with a swooping corseted bustier, led out a march of impeccable black suits, white shirts and black ties, and pinstripes cut into jackets and morphing into tailored strapless dresses. Strictness and pulled-together uniform have been surfacing as a theme this season; here, there was a precision and controlled tension of kinkiness where nothing was quite what it seemed. Burton partly put that down to having watched the stunning Cate Blanchett in the Oscar-nominated film TÁR: “That part where you see the tailors making their chalk-marks on the cloth.” The broken lines she had woven into the pinstripes vibed on that process. Her idea about dressing and studying the body led her to the anatomical drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. Once you knew that, the peeled-back sections of knitwear dresses, incised on the hips, took on a new, sinister context. Surreptitious references to blood and guts were transformed and sublimated into asymmetric frills and prints which looked like giant orchids at some points, and drawings of dissected cadavers at others. In calling up the past and reconnecting with the earliest days she’d worked with McQueen, Sarah Burton projected this collection right into the here and now. It had drama and strength, and many options for all genders to dress very differently than the over-blown theatrical costume that has passed for event-wear these past few years.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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