Last season, before his sad and untimely suicide in February at the age of 40, designer Alexander McQueen offered fans an exhaustive, exhilarating SciFi vision of fashion—an outrageous, masterful collection of organic-inspired prints and alien shapes that looked to both the natural sciences and humanity’s future. Materials recalled butterfly wings and spaceships as the mix of natural and technological motifs presaged fashion’s current obsession with “Avatar” by a full season, all in a way that seemed free of guile and gimmickry despite the two-foot high heels and extraterrestrial makeup. The genius, the fluidity of McQueen’s execution of Spring 2010 only compounded the tragedy of his death. James Dean, Kurt Cobain, and a tight list of other artists whose work touched popular culture, he left suddenly, surprisingly, and at the height of his creative powers with so much more to offer a waiting audience. While the collection that debuted in Paris earlier today was a incomplete, truncated look at his work for Fall 2010, it shows that McQueen was moving forward from Spring’s success with confidence and a look back at the history of Western classical art.
For those of you not attuned to the particular wavelengths of high fashion, just trust us when we state that one could never say enough about this collection. It marks what would have been a turning point, a watershed for a designer who was always, at his heart, dark and punky. As much as this collection is an example of McQueen’s brooding, confrontational style, it is also lovingly traditional and aristocratic.
Using the digital scanning and laser printing techniques that he, Dries Van Noten, and a host of others have pioneered in the creation revolutionary prints and textiles (often sourced from old materials) McQueen employed Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” on one top, Byzantine motifs on another, images of saints pulled from frescoes in a dress, and angels photographed from bas-reliefs in a gown.
Displayed in the antique headquarters of Francois Pinault, it seems as if the contents of the Hermitage had come to life and, as usual, all the digital tricks and sculptural flyaways did not imprison McQueen’s models—they transported them. It’s little wonder, then, that multiple sources reported that some of the lucky attendees began crying. The beauty of this collection alone would make some weep. That it was effectively a wake for one of fashion’s brightest stars who had only begun to deliver on his promise was cause for even more tears.