Dark Star Rising: Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen AW2014

Alexander McQueen AW14 via Vogue.co.uk. Tap/click on images for gallery view.

Dear All,

Oh-my-goodness-me, it has once again been too long, I hope you all are well and enjoying fashion month! For me, really one of the highlights has been Marc Jacobs’s triumphant, drama-filled New York show for Marc Jacobs AW15, which felt like a re-appropriation of all that he had brought to the Vuitton aesthetic, that he’d had to kind of shake off for a while; the embellishment, imagination, and beauty through high period drama, combined with a contemporary sharpness: I will be writing about that soon! This morning, Karl Lagerfeld’s ‘Brasserie Gabrielle’ at the Grand Palais for Chanel AW15 felt to me like a more inspired pairing than the equally inventive engineering feat of the Chanel supermarket of AW14, carrying with it a sense of the legacy of the house and Parisian café culture; more to come in future posts!

For now, in advance of tonight’s AW15 Alexander McQueen show in Paris, a recap of the extraordinary McQueen AW14 show (video below!).

Sarah Burton’s show for Alexander McQueen AW2014 was an extraordinary gothic fairytale, with a huge set like a blasted heath or windswept moor, and the central character a nocturnal otherwordly child-woman morphing with elements of birds of prey into a wolf, dressed in broderie anglaise dresses with full swingy skirts, full-length gowns, hooded capes, heavy embellishment, feathers, fur, and delicately shredded fabrics, velvet ribbon neckties and regal ruffs; a white, jet black, metallic, and dark-gemstone palette, and shod in heavy boots with finely pleated white ruffs in the place of ankle socks. The styling was similarly full of elements of metamorphosis, from teenage metallic sheen on eyelids and elaborately plaited hairstyles to hooded capes and hooded eyes, a sense of disguise.

To the soundtrack of instrumental versions of Björk’s ‘All is Full of Love’ and ‘Bachelorette’ (two favourites of mine), this was an extraordinary spectacle. I immediately thought of the Harper’s Bazaar UK editorial ‘Dark Star’ (September 2013) which was the catalyst for this blog, and imagined that Sarah Burton must have been influenced in some way by that storyline, which included several McQueen pieces, and featured a dark star heroine on Dartmoor (my earlier post on that shoot is here). The astonishing spectacle also felt intimately connected to the McQueen AW08 show, the AW14 girl like a banished, fighting-for-survival, cousin of the girl in the tree who grew up to be a queen.

The combination of tough, killer, seductive, elements and those elements referencing tradition, innocence, gothic literature and Victorian fairytale illustration, was immediately striking, and was echoed in the switch from the sweet and dissolving instrumentation and melody of ‘All is Full of Love’ to the independent hunter-girl throwing down the gauntlet in ‘Bachelorette’ (which included Björk’s wonderful vocals in the finale). Although this was show-spectacle at its most majestic, imaginative, and emotive, it was made up of individual elements which would emerge extremely strongly in the full ready-to-wear commercial collection.

Since the spectacle is so intimately connected to the scale of the show and to its soundtrack by Björk, here is the official show video, from start to finish, via Alexander McQueen. For now, it still seems hard to separate the collection from the spectacle! (Show photos and close-up details are available on Vogue.co.uk .)

What will Sarah Burton show for Alexander McQueen Autumn/Winter 2015? Her Geisha-inspired SS15 collection was such a departure from her Dark Star AW14 heroine. All will be revealed this evening at 7:30 p.m. Paris time. Will you be tuning in live?

Always exciting, the legacy and new manifestations of the McQueen brand under Burton’s direction will be once again in focus not only this evening, but at the weekend, as the Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ (an expanded version of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 2011 exhibition of the name same) opens in London. Coincidentally, Björk’s mid-career retrospective exhibition, which explores her music and visual expression through costume, video, and new commissioned material, has just opened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and of course the Björk-McQueen collaboration goes a long way back. An exciting time! Hope you enjoy the show!

Bisou!

Sinéad

=============

For show photos, close-up details, video, and post-show interviews, see Vogue.co.uk.

For show video, see Alexander McQueen channel on YouTube.

For ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ (London), see Victoria and Albert Museum.

For ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ (New York), see Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For Björk retrospecive, ‘MOMA: Björk’ , see Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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