A romantic invite bearing a Gaelic inscription translating as 'the widows of Culloden' forecast that last night's Alexander McQueen show was to be a political statement. Both in terms of the industry who saw it and world climate that informed it. Rumours that the British designer is increasingly frustrated by the commercial constraints imposed by Gucci groups financial targets for 2007 and the suggestion that the king of spectacular fashion shows' presentation for Autumn/Winter '06-7 would be his most costly yet abounded throughout fashion week. After a couple of seasons of fairly minimal catwalk defilés by McQueen's standards, anticipation was reaching fever pitch and at Margiela, journalists were tearing their hair out at the thought that an 'olden days' McQueen show might not be 'held' in time for their arrival.
To paraphrase a sporting cliché, it was a show of two halves. From my previous blog entry, you know how it all ends; in an ambitious, highly emotive, visual spectacle featuring his beloved Kate Moss that will be another legendary McQueen talking point to match his famous 'golden shower', 'ice rink', 'mirrored box' and 'car spray robot' shows. But of course, the designer also has commercial responsibilities to fulfil and how he met these was by creating one of the most recognisably 'McQueen' collections imaginable. A striking opening section of tweed suiting referenced the nineteenth century Scottish theme, but spoke more of 1940s utility dress in its virtuoso, McQueen cut and shiny, black airplane headdress. This gave way to a sequence of bell-shaped dresses and skinny trousers suits that were all fashioned in McQueen's own clan tartan, driving home the Caledonian concept whilst making sure his own punk legacy was apparent. His association with decayed beauty was invoked by a finishing section of tattered tulle dresses (pictured) that wafted around the glass pyramid, some classic McQueen fishtails and a layered dress composed entirely of pheasant feathers, referencing the bird of prey wings that flanked many of the models faces to create some of Philip Treacy's most impressive hats. "You wouldn't catch me putting those any where near my face just now" muttered a noteable fashion journalist, obviously unconvinced by the French premier's assertions that French poultry is safe from bird flu.
Clearly Robert Polet, CEO of Gucci group, was unworried by such things. He beamed as a clearly overcome McQueen came out to shake his hand at the conclusion of a sure-fire commercial and critical hit.