Monday, 11 February 2013

The controversial Alexander Mcqueen: why do we love him?

Mcqueen's early work

Lee Alexander McQueen killed himself three years ago, leaving a legacy of fashion awards and spine-tingling shows, more comparable to high-art, than high fashion. Ignorant critics have declared that Alexander McQueen hated women, that his catwalks are simply a place for size starving to flaunt their bones. While his catwalks were full of malnutrition-chic, this reductive point is true of all high-fashion houses, while simply stating that ‘he hated women’, it is more true to say that he hated himself.

Alexander McQueen used catwalks as a place to discuss his own emotional turmoil, like a modern-day Munch. He would transform runways with psychological depth, attacking the hemlines of the establishment. My favourite show was the famous Damien Hirst-like fantasy, models in a box, of 2001. 

He raised the caliber of the catwalk with these imaginative performances, breaking the rules, by exploring where fantasy met with obsession. Under his gaze fashion was no longer just a trivial consummation of upper echelon status. It was art.

Sara Burton's latest catwalk
Since his death, most fashionista’s have had the same thought in their heads – how will Sarah Burton, his long-time assistant collaborator and new successor, do? Will she truly live up to the disturbed vision of one of the greatest fashion designers of our time?

The truth is, it is impossible to recreate the vision of someone who is gone, and forgery will be seen for what it truly is under the microscopic lenses of the fashion world. In the last two years she has managed to avoid this and adhered to the integral values of the McQueen brand, whilst creating her own vision.

Her latest catwalk took inspiration from the busy bee woman, making delicious hourglass silhouettes with all the edge and vision you would expect from a McQueen show. There is still meaning in the bejeweled armor, still extraordinary beauty in the chosen metaphor, but there is no longer that sinister longing which historically pervaded the shows. This longing that made the catwalks explode into spectacle, the Kate Moss hologram, the paints that attacked the dress, made us always expect the unexpected with Lee McQueen at the helm.
Paint attacking a dress on a catwalk spectacle

Life cannot stand still however, and the story of the label must change and flourish with a new creative director. I look forward to seeing the Burton narrative unfold, as she directs the label away from the shadow shaped Lee of the past, and into a new future.

Check out our Mcqueen inspired ruffled dress or a Bejewelled collar necklace to get the look.

By Rosalind Kendal

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