There was a time when Alexander McQueen was seen as the poster child for punk-inspired British fashion, following in the footsteps of Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano before him. But while Westwood is still very much the feisty, anti-establishment designer she was at the outset of her career, McQueen's style has become increasingly mature and refined. Gone are the combat boots and trademark kilts which have been replaced by designs rich in intricate details and exquisite craftsmanship. McQueen has matured into one of England's most respected and influential designers alongside Westwood and Galliano. His Fall/Winter 2008-09 collection is a testament to the evolution of his design style and struck me as surprisingly regal given his early aesthetic. The collection is saturated with rich, lush fabrics, a profusion of gold thread and exotic feathers. I wasn't the least bit surprised therefore to learn that he cites Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington and the Indian Empire as his inspirations. The overall effect left me wondering whether McQueen had (wittingly or unwittingly) turned out an haute couture collection instead of a pret-a-porter collection. Whatever his intention, the collection was a sumptuous feast for the eyes.
In addition to coming into his own on the creative front, McQueen has also achieved a business milestone when his parent company, PPR (Pinault, Printemps Redoute), announced that his fashion business had just this year achieved profitability. (Source) To his credit, McQueen has chosen to build his company internally via ready-to-wear including a lower-priced McQ diffusion line and accessories rather than licensing deals. In fact, McQueen has limited his companies' licensing deals to just two: Puma (the footwear company is majority-owned by PPR) and Samsonite (luggage). His strategy going forward will be to develop the retail branch of his business. In addition to his current stand-alone stores in London, New York, Milan, Las Vegas, Istanbul and Moscow, McQueen has ambitious expansion plans including a fourth stand-alone store in Los Angeles (April 2008), one in Paris (2009) and several franchises in the Middle East and Asia. Bravo Mr. McQueen!
The Luxe Chronicles
All photos from the Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2008-09 collection. All photos by Marcio Madeira courtesy of Style.com.