Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Alexander McQueen 2010 Spring/Summer Collection
For McQueen's 2010 Spring/Summer collection, it all started with reptiles. Yes. Reptiles. The collection he showed on Tuesday evening, the third in a series that has explored man’s relationship to the earth with Darwinian detachment, was, theatrically speaking, heavy. With the polar ice cap melting, the earth can no longer support life as we know it. We’re headed back from whence we came, the ocean.
Titled “Plato’s Atlantis”, the performance opened with a video of a naked woman writhing in the sand with snakes. Two robotic arms with video cameras glided up and down the runway, gyrating like snakes, streaming the show live on the designer's website.
Models perched on impossibly high platform booties that were convex through the top of the foot, their hair a serpent's den of cornrows, wore short dresses in snakeskin-light chiffon printed with the scales of copperheads and cobras. Exquisite pleating created strange and wonderful volumes on the shoulders, sleeves and hips, while bubbly metallic paneling on some of the dresses glinted like scales.
Next came the winged creatures; owls and insects, whose markings morphed into hallucinatory prints on feathery chiffon. For the aquatic creatures, the palette shifted from rusty browns and mustard-y yellows to a spectrum of blues, purples and grays. Along with the dresses, we got deep-sea gear, with neoprene layered over shimmering microfibers. The booties, embellished with metalwork, glimmered darkly, like an oil spill.
Then McQueen went intergalactic, sending out girls who looked like distant nebulae, naked but for a cloud of metallic fabric that swirled around their hips and up their midriffs.
Evolution—Darwin, the natural world, technology—provided inspiration for the dazzling clothes. Most of the dresses, in engineered prints and jacquards, were molded and draped, and in astonishing whorls of colors. Platform shoes looked like the hulls of ships.
What is hard to appreciate is the amount of thought and work that went into the making of the clothes. The prints and fabrics were amazing, but then consider a slim gray coat cut clean open at the chest and then closed in a soft arc near the hem, as if the whole thing had been hollowed out of an existing coat and this was the shape that remained.
It was breathtaking, and filled with too much fine work and too many grand references to take in at once. McQueen proves why he may be the very best designer living today. Not only was it the most ambitious show yet of Paris' ready-to-wear displays, McQueen's sartorial synthesis of evolution was also the most brilliant. And the best. There. I said it.