McQueen: A Retrospective in Four Parts

This is a re-post. The original post (dated July 31, 2011) has been deleted.

Some functionality issues developed--most of the content was not showing! I say 'developed'; the full post was viewable when originally published. I am happy to have resolved the issue. :) Unfortunately the museum events have passed, but the rest is still relevant.

In this post...

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Alexander McQueen on Charlie Rose

I love glimpsing into the shadows of a person's inner being, the infrangible collective of experience, thought and intuition. It was not so long ago when chance and curiosity, aided by a modicum of investigation (google), led me to this gem. In this all-too-short interview from 1997 Charlie Rose chats with fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Enjoy!

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Allow me a small encomium to Charlie Rose; for no one is better at drawing moments of openness than he. His easy manner and undeniable talent are treasures to the curious spirit and eager mind. It is no wonder that Rose's long-running PBS program, with little more than a couple of chairs and a table, induces captivity in his audience and gives wings to time. The consummate interviewer, Charlie Rose's only shortcoming is that he cannot interview himself.

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McQueen after McQueen

With the passing of Lee Alexander McQueen in February of 2010, the direction of the fashion house of the couturier passed into the hands of Sarah Burton. She was the natural choice and, by all accounts, she is very capable and incredibly attuned to the aesthetic sensibilities of the McQueen label. And so she should be! After all she worked alongside Alexander McQueen and was privy to his work processes. In all respects, the perfect successor. Even so I worried the magic would fade.

One year on and some shows under her belt (McQueen's final contributions were to the 2010 Autumn/Winter collection), how has Burton fared? She has certainly kept the McQueen name front and centre on the world stage: Kate's dress. Excuse me: dresses!

But what about the McQueen magic? How do Burton's designs compare? Her collections carry on the tradition of conceptual strength. Each collection has its own character while the underlying brooding darkness remains a ready motif. But now there is vulnerability too. Woven into her designs is a subtle softness previously unknown to the McQueen label. It is a welcome new dimension that adds warmth. Burton's individual pieces have just as much presence—and, as always, exquisite tailoring—as her predecessor's; however, they lack the strangeness, the boldness, the madness that was a hallmark of the house. (See my favourites.)

Where Burton's collections embody characters, McQueen's were wholly manifestations of other worlds. He explored his concepts so keenly and fully. This commitment to vision is what breathed life into McQueen's work. It was as though he undertook in-depth socio-cultural surveys of other worlds and brought back a spectrum of their finest sartorial pieces by which to define them. Hate his style perhaps, but the absoluteness of its execution was unquestionable. The triumph of the shows themselves was every time a feat of imagination over actuality. From the ambiance of the venue to the make-up to the models' walk, every last, little detail was part of the larger vision.

Even the McQueen detractors of past cannot deny that his absence from the fashion stage is felt. (Well maybe they can, but they would be so very wrong!)

So, what have we learnt?

Genius is inimitable.

That said, Sarah Burton is off to a roaring start. There has been variety; there has been emotion; there has been finesse. And I expect there will be a lot more to come. The house stands on solid ground!

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A "Few" of My Favourites

AW 2006 AW 2006 SS 2007 SS 2007 AW 2007

AW 2008 AW 2008 AW 2008 AW 2008 AW 2009

AW 2009 AW 2009 AW 2009 AW 2009 AW 2009

SS 2010 SS 2010 AW 2010 AW 2010 AW 2010


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Fashion Retrospectives

If you are lucky enough to live in one of the right places, run out and catch one of these tributes to fashion greats. Alas, I live in the 'wrong' place. Perhaps these shows will take to the road??

Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY. Alexander McQueen 'Savage Beauty'
May 4 - August 7
More info.

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal / Montreal's Museum of Fine Arts. Jean Paul Gaultier
'La planète mode de Jean Paul Gaultier'
June 17 - October 2
More info.

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