Alexander McQueen: Ready-to-wear SS17

Shipwrecked. Let’s call that the theme of Sarah Burton’s SS17 show for Alexander McQueen. Not shipwrecked of the Titanic sort, nor of the desert island sort, nor of the early 2000s Channel 4 TV show sort. No, this was the shipwrecked in the Shetland Isles sort. Which sounds, well, really quite miserable. But, alas, this wasn’t miserable. This was McQueen. So let’s call it brooding. Think: shipwrecked beauties or perhaps the widows left behind, ladies peering out of lighthouse windows, misty-eyed, into stormy seas. That kind of thing. Sarah said that this show was about celebrating Scottish textiles, a fact compounded by the undulating (can we say wavey?) made entirely of rugs, silk rugs, all stitched by hand in the Shetlands. There was sort of tough, weathered femininity to McQueen’s ladies – long lace dresses worn with a punky leather bodices on top or the patched-together denim with a corset atop, pulled apart at the front as if ripped open for room to move. Destroyed tulle coated the models like fishing nets, and even the delicate puffs and ruffles of sheer sea green and blue were worn with hulking, studded leather boots. There was a craftiness too – as if our Islander ladies were pulling back together their lives – necklaces dripping with charms, touches of crochet, thousands of flowers that bloomed across the collection, placed there by by hand. And that knitwear, stitched together, patchwork, in a hodge-podge of designs. But, as with Burton and McQueen himself before, the toughness was compounded with a heavy punch of breathtaking beauty – like that final look, a sheer dress with a sequinned wave upon in, that descended into a hem of sea foam, looking as if the model had, moments before, been dragged from a stormy sea. Which, unlike us if we were to be pulled from any body of water and would look like a drowned rat possibly exposing several inappropriate body parts, was so utterly beautiful that there was literally, a collective intake of breath. Because that’s what Burton inspires – her work is that of pure fantasy, each and every season transporting ourselves to somewhere else entirely. Truly magical.