ALEXANDER MCQUEEN: PRE-FALL 2020

This collection, completed well before London went into lockdown, drew on the British landscape, rocks and minerals, and historic flora, including the thistle and the Glasgow Rose.

By Balthazar Malevolent

ALEXANDER MCQUEEN: PRE-FALL 2020

This collection of Alexander McQueen's pre-fall was shown to London editors on February 4, before Everything happened. Now that All has happened — and everything else seems set to — how does the latest Sarah Burton's stand up as it begins to be available on sale (a month or so late)?

Pretty good, actually. Such clothes may be pre-dating the double whammy of 2020 — a torrent of calamity followed by a sea of holy indignation — but far from being antediluvian relics, they are undeniably more on the spot now than then. That's because many of the concerns that Burton and her team have rooted in the content of their work — traceability, cultural identity, feminism, sustainability, the use of patriarchal tropes to express feminine power — have become less theoretical and more concrete in the unsparing light of Everything.

Working closely with British mills, McQueen developed lighter versions of conventionally heavier fitting fabrics — Donegal tweed, Prince of Wales, etc. — then cut and pasted them for contrast in garments whose contours echoed the fossil shapes of suiting reveres and darting. The effect was gender-transcendent power attire worn north of swooping asymmetric hemlines punctuated by large, intentionally languid ruffles. Such collar contrasts continued into leather suits, playing burnt orange against caramel, a category which also included all-caramel Boadicea wear — an implicit reminder of when Britain was colonized and (hopelessly) rose up against Rome's 'civilizing' sandal.

Similarly, lace dresses and tuxedo pantsuits featured thoughtfully spliced samples of traditional techniques for suiting. These added up to a rich seam of reference alongside the layered-pattern knits or the contrast of bright mineral colors against matte, iron-ore grays. Both the needle-punched parts shivering with thousands of different colored hand-applied ribbons, and the very contoured rib-knit dresses inspired by schlumpy menswear cardigans highlighted Burton's source material's kaleidoscopic creative diversity. Burton creates clothes of rare authenticity and resilience — warrior-wear of impeccable provenance by excavating ancient themes and using traditional techniques while refashioning the contrast as the complementary.

What is Victoria Beckham, amongst other British designers, going to surprise us with this season? Stay tuned!

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