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Pomp and bittersweet circumstances at McQueen

June 21, 2010 |  4:25 pm

Once the decision had been made that the Alexander McQueen label would continue after the untimely death of its namesake designer four months ago, there were really only two ways it could have gone: either try to full-on mimic the thought-provoking, mind-bending, envelope-pushing way McQueen shared his handiwork with the world, or concentrate on the bloody good sartorial steak that always stood behind the stagecraft sizzle.

Thankfully, under the artistic direction of Sarah Burton, longtime head of design at the label, Team

McQueen went with the latter, bringing the spring/summer 2011 menswear collection full circle, starting with Savile Row rootstock and building it up from there with many of the familiar touches we've come to associate with McQueen, including the use of photographic prints and patterns and some toned-down takes on the signature skull motif.

The result was a somber, serious and tightly edited collection that managed to reference the uniforms of World War I soldiers (with long and short trench coats, military-influenced cargo pants, and some dusty Rage_mq_light khaki-colored pieces), the Far East (a red-and-orange kimono print, and black-and-gold chinoiserie), and the formal wear of upper-crust aristocracy.

One of the most visually captivating effects, and one that truly captured McQueen's spirit, was the "spotlight" printing on a shirt and a jacket -- that cast the kind of faux shadows across the model that made it look like a spotlight was shining down from directly above.

After the presentation, when the models had filled the top of the runway, the traditional graduation march "Pomp and Circumstance" began to play, and the models walked single file down the runway.

After years of tutelage under the master, the education is done. The pupil moves to center stage. A bittersweet moment indeed. And one that will be remembered for making it feel for all the world that an intense beam of light was shining down from on high.  

-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Milan

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Alexander McQueen spring/summer 2011 menswear presentation photo gallery

More All the Rage coverage of Milan Fashion Week

Photos: At top, looks from the Alexander McQueen spring/summer 2011 menswear collection, presented during Milan Men's Fashion Week on June 20. At bottom, the "spotlight" jacket (like the shirt above, fat left) is printed to give the effect of a spotlight trained from directly above the wearer. Credit: Peter Stigter and Jonas Gustavsson / For The Times.* [Updated]

*[In an earlier version of this post, the photos were incorrectly credited.]