#SuzyPFW: Epic Nature From Alexander McQueen
A glitter gulch of tiny bugs formed the back of a dress – minuscule creatures in a rainbow of colours, taken from a swarm of raw nature as inspiration for the Alexander McQueen show.
“Metamorphosis – the magical transformation of femininity, extreme nature with the delicate, emergent beauty of butterflies and moths,” said the designer of her collection that, by its end, had moved from smart tailoring and pretty patterns to something much wilder. Without a smart, curvy blazer or a tailored coat to keep things under control, luscious patterns and bold curves introduced another world.
Sarah described the moment, during the shoot for an advertising campaign in Brazil, when she had been overcome by “empowered, very heightened nature”.
“It was inspiring to think how to make her (the model) feel strong and feminine – not pagan and earthy. We had to give her power not to lose her femininity. I think that is what I wanted to do, so that she could retain both.”
It was difficult not to view this collection sexually, as a sort of Georgia O’Keeffe landscape in a steamier, wilder country. Sarah described her experience of Brazil as an explosion of “epic nature” with its “big plants, big bags and birds of paradise”.
What was astounding about the collection was how in control the designer was of this ode to raw nature – something that fascinated McQueen himself, but mostly its dark side. There were none of McQueen’s dead birds, rather birds of paradise and, in an exceptional piece of couture-style craftsmanship, those tiny bugs, each colourful creature swarming over the back of a dress cinched in by a corset belt, as though the designer was determined to keep control.
There seemed to be many hidden stories in this fecund display. Were these women – in the early looks so controlled, shaped to a sharp waistline – being given the opportunity to cover their bosoms not with leather armoury but something much rounder and softer?
Or perhaps the later looks were to prove that women could appear just as strong and powerful in looser clothes, especially when those outfits were black with blood-red silk running towards the hem. Here the clothes were not dependent on a waistline: a woman could even be a butterfly, although this pale pink gathering of wings on each shoulder looked more warrior than pretty little thing.
This tour de force from Sarah was both beautifully articulated and food for thought. It offered a new kind of femininity that was powered by strength.