Paris Fashion Week: Alexander McQueen embraces his role as fashion’s reigning provocateur
October 7, 2009 | 4:00 pm
It was a story of eco-evolution wrapped around an Atlantis theme, combining Hollywood film effects with the latest in digital technology. And it was the coolest spectacle to hit the Paris runway in a long time.
At the end of a month-long, multi-city runway season showcasing the Spring 2010 collections, Alexander McQueen -- a man whose imagination knows no bounds -- fully embraced his role as fashion’s reigning provocateur. He webcast his sci-fi fantasy live through a collaboration with director Nick Knight and Showstudio.com, turning it into an unmediated, international event, instant content for the blog and Twitter-sphere and a powerful advertisement.
At the same time he touched on issues now charting the future of fashion, including the implications of the public’s instant Internet access to runway images and a growing social consciousness about the environmental impact of consumption.
“When Charles Darwin wrote ‘The Origin of Species,’ no one could have known that the ice cap would melt, that the waters would rise and that life on Earth would have to evolve in order to live beneath the sea once more or perish,” McQueen wrote in his show notes, setting the scene for a film, projected on an LCD screen behind the runway, which depicted a woman mutating into an underwater being.
The creatures that came out onto the runway were otherworldly nymphs with hair like cobra hoods, and staggering platform shoes with armor-like shells. One look morphed into the next, with dresses wrapping, twisting and folding in on each other. Moth, praying mantis and manta ray prints evocative of Damien Hirst’s nature-themed works were engineered specifically for each garment, and embroideries brought to mind underwater wreckage. Dresses also were covered in a print taken from an aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef, and when the evolutionary process was complete, a new being emerged in the final model, dressed in sequins and opalescent beads that conjured underwater bio-luminescence.
Was it wearable? Of course not. (In Paris, real women can look to the terrific pants and jackets on the runways at Stella McCartney and Dries Van Noten for that.) But people should know by now that only about 20% of what’s shown on the runways actually ends up being produced. (The bulk of what stores buy is from the more commercial pre-collections back in the designers’ showrooms.) Now more than ever, the runway is the place for brand statements, and McQueen’s voice came across loud and clear.
-- Booth Moore
Photos: On the runway at Alexander McQueen's Spring-Summer 2010 show. Credits: Peter Stigter & Jonas Gustavsson / For The Times