ALEXANDER MCQUEEN PRE-FALL 2021 MENSWEAR

“Shape, silhouette, and volume, the beauty of the bare bones of clothing stripped back to its essence—a world charged with emotion and human connection.”

By Balthzar Malevolent

ALEXANDER MCQUEEN PRE-FALL 2021 MENSWEAR

If the Thames riverbank reminds you of either Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy or Spice World: the Movie, Alexander McQueen’s foray into the fashion film-scape won’t soon disappoint. Sinister and Brit-tastic all at once, Sarah Burton’s collection clip—created by the director Jonathan Glazer—is extremely up for interpretation. Between the women pushing through the murky river in their ball gowns, the couple kissing under the bridge, and the search party possibly looking for all of them, it could be a romantic teen horror flick, or, a very stylized documentary about the forgotten youth. Do you know where your children are? Because they could be under a bridge, wearing a McQueen hybrid between a debutante dress and a biker jacket.

In her collection notes, Burton—who declined interviews this season—expressed a newfound desire for purity: “Shape, silhouette, and volume, the beauty of the bare bones of clothing stripped back to its essence—a world charged with emotion and human connection.” The film considered, you could liken her words to the way many Londoners felt when they first saw the nakedness of the city’s streets during lockdown. Unable to pursue her fabled research trips around Great Britain this year, it felt as if Burton had lost herself in the stark solitude of the stripped-down capital, and noticed in it a beauty you rarely get to see.

If those impressions informed her collections (she showed men’s pre-fall with women’s spring), it was expressed in a muted approach to her favorite recurring elements. Gone was the vivid decoration that often fills her surfaces. Instead, Burton let her construction speak for itself, zoning in on the hybridization native to the Alexander McQueen code book. In this department, there was little sign of restraint. Like the Edward Scissorhands of wardrobe mutation, she left no garment un-spliced: A biker jacket married cocoon-shaped tulle sleeves and a ballroom skirt, a Crombie coat fused with an MA-1 jacket, and a poplin dress mutated with a pique shirt.

It was a constant conversation between past and present, menswear and womenswear, and the uniforms we’ve adapted into city-wear. “In many ways it felt like going back to the beginning for me, like it was in the early days at McQueen. At that time, we had less resources and all had to be very hands-on,” Burton told me this summer, talking about her creative process during lockdown. You could see the spirit of resourcefulness in the way she pieced together her garments, but on a more concrete level, many pieces had been created with overstock too.

“For both the men’s and women’s collections, I made a decision early on in lockdown only to use fabrics that we already had; print on them, reinvent them, and make them feel new,” Burton said. She demonstrated it no more poignantly than in a trompe l’oeil butterfly-draped bustier dress printed with scans of those same pieces, allowing their folds and creases to serve as decoration. “I believe that it is our responsibility to protect the things we love from the past, to preserve our values, signatures, and history, but it is also our job to innovate,” she said. “There is comfort in familiarity and excitement in experimentation. The two coexist.”

Alexander McQueen

In other news, Proenza Schouler Resort 2021 RTW Collection - Fashion Show photos from New York Fashion Week (Dec, 2020).

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