Alexander McQueen FALL 2023 READY-TO-WEAR Collection
Sarah Burton once more showed that the house of Alexander McQueen is on par with the very best in the business during a season when there has been a shift toward placing a premium on fashion designers who are capable of producing work of a high quality. Back in Paris, she waited for the right opportunity to bring up the sharpness and perfection of the tailoring—both for women and for men—as well as the expression of a darkly explosive imagination that is alive in the McQueen ateliers in London. This was her choice of the moment.
Backstage, she said that the process involved looking at anatomy, specifically the anatomy of tailoring. “Nearly back to the beginnings of McQueen on Savile Row,” Alexander McQueen said. It was a process that began in a manner that could be described as quite linear and ordered. After then, it starts to flash, twist, and eventually flip itself upside down. It’s kind of like how you start with a garment—you need to be aware that there’s a method to put it together, the skeleton of it, before you can dissect it and turn it on its head.
A procession of perfect black suits, white shirts and black ties, and pinstripes cut into jackets and morphing into precise strapless dresses was led out by Naomi Campbell, who was dressed in a black jumpsuit with a swooping corseted bustier. This season, one of the recurring themes has been a strictness and pulled-together uniform; here, there was a precision and controlled tension of kinkiness where nothing was quite what it looked to be.
In part, Burton attributed this to the fact that he had seen Cate Blanchett in the film Tar. “That part where you see the tailors making their chalk marks on the cloth,” Burton said. The broken lines that she had weaved into the pinstripes gave off a mood that was associated with that procedure. The musical box sound from his ‘Joan of Arc’ collection from autumn 1998 was played backwards, and a video take on the stop-motion Victorian photography of Eadweard Muybridge ran upside down on the encircling walls. These were only two examples of the echoes of McQueen culture that actually resonated in the circular room. “Because it feels like everything’s upside down in the world, I suppose,” Burton remarked with a shrug. “It just feels like that.”
Her interest in adornment and dissection of the human body led her to the sketches of Leonardo da Vinci, who specialised in anatomy. The peeled-back parts of the knitwear dresses, which were incised on the hips, took on a new meaning once you understood that. This new meaning was more ominous. The covert references to blood and intestines were altered and sublimated into asymmetric frills and prints that, at certain points, resembled huge orchids, and at other times, resembled drawings of dissected cadavers.
The eveningwear was illuminated by glints of a blazing crimson and an ethereal silver. A black dress with bugle beads and a ripped hem appeared, at one point, almost exactly like a reincarnation of Alexander McQueen’s ruby red Joan of Arc dress, which was the garment that Alexander McQueen’s model was wearing when she perished in a ring of flames on the London catwalk.
Sarah Burton brought this collection directly into the present moment by projecting it into the past and reuniting herself with the very first days that she had worked with Alexander McQueen. It had drama and strength, as well as numerous alternatives for people of both genders to dress in a manner that was significantly different from the over-the-top theatrical costume that has been the standard for formal wear in recent years. Tomorrow, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Cate Blanchett’s stylist called the headquarters of McQueen to discuss the actress’s upcoming look.