No surprise then, that this season΄s collection, presented in Paris on the 29th of February, was a tour de force for McQueen. Many say it was his best ever. I do not know if that is true. What I do know is that, while watching photo after photo of his amazing designs, I was left with my mouth gaping with astonishment, marvelling at the excellence and brilliance of his talent.
I will post here the review of Sarah Mower from Style.com, who sums it up in words far better than I ever could.
The one element that has gone missing in the collections is the spine-tingling, eye-welling emotion of a show so exceptional to witness that—despite all exhaustion, cynicism, and workaday pressures—it suddenly transforms being involved in fashion into a magical privilege. Just when it seemed like that feeling was virtually extinct, Alexander McQueen handed his audience a self-imagined fantasy of crinolined princesses and British-colonial romance of such beauty, it arguably surpassed anything he's achieved in 14 years.
"I've got a 600-year-old elm tree in my garden," he said, "and I made up this story of a girl who lives in it and comes out of the darkness to meet a prince and become a queen." After a trip to India, the designer worked like a fiend for months in his studio, with images of Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington, and the Indian Empire running through his mind.
They were transformed into ballerina-length multi-flounced dance dresses, each more insanely exquisite than the last: A miraculous red-feather-fronted number turned to burst into a froth of creamy frills in back; another came covered in baby-fine knitted lace; a third had a pair of peacocks—again fashioned from cut out black lace—with their tail feathers fanning out over ivory tulle petticoats.
Interspersed were rigorously cut military tailcoats with taut pants detailed with military frogging, and slim brocade and cloque pantsuits with crisp white high-necked shirts. Then there was a stately parade of imperial-red and velvet jackets bedecked with millions of dollars' worth of antique Indian diadems and diamond neckpieces, and yet more incredible rich Empire-line saris and wispy dishabille transparencies.
These were followed by a sequence of gold-encrusted, ermine-coated glory, echoing the heyday of Norman Hartnell and Hardy Aimes' fifties British couture as worn by Elizabeth II.
Whatever had triggered this new lease of inspired design, it went further than the mere rendition of fanciful costume for the sake of telling a story. Importantly, McQueen finally found it in himself to quash the confining, uptight carapace that had held back former collections, replacing it with a new sense of lightness and femininity.
Meanwhile, for all the transporting spectacle and extravagance, the narrative never submerged the sense that, within this wonder, there's plenty to wear, too. No coincidence, then, that McQueen today announced that his company has gone into profit for the first time. It was a day when his brilliance had never shone more brightly.
Regarding the gown seen above, John Galliano had done a similar dress for Dior years ago but that had only a feathered corset, while this goes all the way into aviary fantasy.
His mix of Directoire and India inspirations is amazing as seen above. The imperial influence and colours are evident in the gown below.
McQueen is an arch romantic - albeit one with a hard streak - but this show focused on his softer side, Exactly the combination I love. And he seems never to be restrained by the commercial aspect of his work.
It is good then that his company announced they have just managed to turn profitable. It means that his talent can continue to soar at dizzying heights without worrying about making clothes for every day consumption. Because we all need the touch of a fairy tale in our every day lives from time to time.
All photos by Marcio Madeira, courtesy of Style.com