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Fashion: A Glimpse Into Alexander McQueen 's Creative Angst

Jun 29 2009

Alexander McQueen 1 Alexander McQueen 2 Alexander McQueen 3

We may live in uncertain economic times but thankfully, we live in very creative ones as well. As an increasing number of fashion houses explore alternatives to runway shows either out of environmental consciousness or fiscal prudence, we're witnessing a burst of creativity as new presentation formats are explored. While it's unclear exactly why Alexander McQueen opted for a multi-media presentation over a live runway show, his Men's Spring/Summer 2010 collection arrived at my doorstep last week via CD accompanied by a letter from the designer himself and a short DVD entitled "Analyse That!"

"Analyse That!", a short film written by McQueen and directed by David Sims, is dark, full of angst and hints at McQueen's persona as a tortured artist. There is an obvious connection between the tortured soul featured on screen and the collection which features soft, relaxed silhouettes in a variety of paint-splattered fabrics that call to mind Jackson Pollack madly dripping paint on a canvas at his Long Island studio in the mid-1950's. This theme is reinforced by the accessories which include round-toed worker style shoes and boots with paint strokes around the sole. In other words, a well-coordinated, cohesive presentation.

McQueen is clearly unafraid to explore technology as a means of connecting to customers. As you may recall, he teamed up with online fashion emporium Net-A-Porter in September 2008 to offer pre-registered customers an exclusive opportunity to view a private runway show and purchase eight looks from the Pre-Spring 2009 (i.e. resort) collection a full two months before the items became available anywhere else. In this instance however, it is a brief glimpse into McQueen's creative process that is on display rather than the garments themselves.

Whether or not the film is a true reflection of McQueen's creative angst is anybody's guess but it remains nonetheless a clever way to draw your attention to the clothing which is, when everything is said and done, the point of the exercise. While it may not replace the drama of a live presentation or a trip to the showroom to finger the clothing and eye the details, as fashion media outlets and an increasing number of retailers on both sides of the pond shave their travel budgets and their staff, it makes a tremendous amount of sense to present a collection in this way. It will be interesting to see whether McQueen pursues this mode of presentation and just how far he is willing to take it. You can view "Analyse That!" as well as the full Spring/Summer collection at the Alexander McQueen website.


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I agree with you John - I would hate to see runway shows disappear altogether and doubt they ever will. This said, they have become altogether too theatrical and overproduced for my taste. I don't think a return to a more pared down presentation would be a bad thing - it would force our attention back to the clothing. If a collection cannot stand on its own without full theatrical presentation, then I think there is a problem.


Helene, regarding your comment about "celebrity" designers, I could not agree more. Why does anybody think they can just become a designer? It's hard work! And for the ones who are worth their salt, it's a lifetime métier which is always a work in progress.

Regarding Alexander McQueen, he's an enormous talent, and one of the few younger designers who I think truly has the technical background and perspective to have a career comparable to a Lagerfeld, Valentino, or Saint Laurent. Though I hope designers will never forego runway presentations (or openings as they used to be quaintly referred to). It's lovely to see old film footage of couture shows: intimate and chic with little gold cane chairs, and models with numbers. Maybe more designers will pick up on this. I know it's nostalgic, but we can dream can't we?

Totally agree with your comments above Helene

Agreed! A showroom visit trumps the theatrics of the over-produced runway show hands down.

As for designers getting in touch with their artistic side, I've often wondered whether this may in fact be a defensive maneuver to set themselves apart from Victoria Beckham/Beyonce/J-Lo and every other celebrity who has claimed the title of "designer" in recent years. As more and more celebrities venture into fashion, I think the overall effect has been to cheapen the work of legitimate designers in the eyes of consumers. It's as though designers have to work that much harder to get the respect their craft deserves. Just a thought.


Interesting - I do think a showroom viewing is the best answer to hard times, nothing beats cloth in hand.
I also think designers are getting too embroiled in the art arena. If you want to be an artist leave fashion but if you are a designer be proud of fashion as an industry/output.

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The Luxe Chronicles is a collection of interviews, profiles and musings on various aspects of the luxury industry and occasionally, a rant on our celebrity obsessed culture and the dumbing down of our collective sense of style and esthetic.

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