Alexander McQueen RTW Fall 2010
by WWD STAFF
Posted Tuesday March 09, 2010
“Each piece is unique, as was he.” Those simple words, at the end of the show notes for the final collection by the late Lee Alexander McQueen, captured the sentiment of a singular talent extinguished too soon. The 15 showpieces that paraded slowly through a gilded salon at the headquarters of luxury titan Francois Pinault were all cut “on the stand” by McQueen in the weeks before he took his own life. In their artistry, imagination and technical wizardry, they brought his fashion spirit to life. Here was a designer with the intelligence and depth of culture to reference centuries of history, and such a forward-looking vision that some of his final messages to the world came via Twitter. A floor-length black gown — the skirt a sweep of couture satin caught in curtain folds at the hip, the bodice paved in golden rococo swirls, the sleeves erupting into three-dimensional embroideries for the “Avatar” age — captured the span of his mind and the skill of his hands.
McQueen continued to experiment with ideas from his last collections, this time engineering prints by digitally capturing entire works of art and weaving them into fabrics. His inspirations ranged from Byzantine art and Old Master paintings to the carvings of Grinling Gibbons, and each look was worn with a bronzed cap, some spiked with a Mohawk of gilded leaves like a Roman war helmet. In a quest for new shapes, he folded sturdy fabrics into jutting and swooping lines that were both organic and otherworldly. Here was a windblown swirl of gilded brocade transformed into a minidress with a pouf skirt; there, a monastic gown depicting statuary, folds of fabric gathered at the back into regal panels. Such an intimate setting allowed for up-close appreciation of the details, the digital patterns painstakingly plotted so that angel wings aligned with the shoulder blades; the grand but graceful line of a dress’s sculpted neckline that arched above the collarbones.
With a haunting soundtrack of operatic music, the presentation was solemn, funereal and even a little spooky — and the references to angels, broken skulls and religious themes eerily prescient. Tears were welling in the eyes of some spectators as the finale dress entered: a grand coat of gold feathers that ended in a froth of embroidered tulle.
McQueen’s parent, PPR, had indicated the business would continue without its founder and creative director. On Thursday, retailers will be invited to buy a showroom collection spanning about 160 pieces, said McQueen president Jonathan Akeroyd. “People are focusing on the business,” he said, characterizing bookings for the pre-fall collection as “exceptional.” McQueen counts about 300 wholesale clients for its women’s wear, in addition to its network of 11 boutiques. “Everyone has been very supportive,” Akeroyd said. With McQueen’s death so fresh, less than a month ago, PPR has resisted making any forward-looking statements about the business, and the sensitive issue of design succession. Robert Polet, president and chief executive officer of Gucci Group, was overcome as he rushed backstage to see the design team. “It was a very moving experience to take a deep and serious look at his last collection. It showed Lee’s unique talent to create pieces of beauty that touch many of your senses, leaving one enriched,” Polet said later, after composing himself. Then he added, “Although the sense of loss afterwards, I found overwhelming.”