One of the most significant results of the massive movement for women’s empowerment, at least in fashion, is a revival of clothes with a positively noble air. Such was the case in an inventive and truly original collection from the house of Alexander McQueen presented Monday evening, on the penultimate day of the international women’s ready-to-wear catwalk season.
There was something decorous and rather grand about these clothes, presented inside the Carreau du Temple, a wrought iron mid-19th-century market in the north Marais, revamped with some mega-wide ash floorboards, the better for the cast to march on. And march they certainly did, behaving like women in haste and en route to important appointments.
Alexander McQueen’s designer Sarah Burton always manages to maintain her focus, especially in this Fall/Winter 2020-21 collection, which throughout suggested stylish events, great openings, major concerts and movie premieres. For these were clothes for special occasions.
A baronial, ceremonial opening. A dandy drummer’s double-lapel jacket that became an officer’s coat, a mega-checked and striped power-shouldered coat, before a one-shoulder Amazon on the Avon warrior dress. And then some eye-catching coats in the fabric of the season – believe it or not, Prince of Wales check – except dissected with genius with huge diagonal black bands.
There was also Maid Marian in a white virginal smock dress with a train, except this was finished with delightful perversity, with a harness and an open back. In effect, the fabrics added a few kilos to too many looks, but that also added a voluptuousness that was very real, and very now. Really rather voracious glamour.
All the way to the finale – sort of Mary Queen of Scots meets Leigh Bowery when the Ministry of Sound takes over a royal wedding looks. And a stupendous silver cocktail concoction made of multiple shards of crystal, worn by the beautiful black model Adut Akech – Calypso, who managed to detain Odysseus for a few years, arising from the depths of the Aegean inside in the Carreau du Temple.
Every model wore fierce coppery red waxed-down hair, the gutsiest and yet also the most elegant, and empowering, hair styling of the season. Nice work after over 350 shows.
Everything, pretty much, was anchored by hefty bovver boots. Then again, half the women at this show were already clad in hefty boots, as long as you exclude American and French Vogue staff. High-heel reductionist to the end. One recalls Talleyrand’s verdict on the Bourbons.
In summary, a very distinctive collection by one of the ten most inventive fashion designers on the planet. Perhaps not one of her vintage collections but even a couple of points off her A game, Burton still leaves most rivals in her slipstream. Or should we say moat?
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