Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Lost World Found.

Life forms alight at McQueen.

The overwhelming crush of curious onlookers crashed the planned live feed of Alexander McQueen's latest show via SHOWstudio's site, but those who saw the spectacular event were privy to a peak performance. The opportunity to see a show in full, with the original music, timing, and every second left as it was originally performed, is a rare and well-appreciated happening for a fashion fan. But, even if you had no previous interest in fashion, this show held much to tune in for.

The hair and makeup were designed by Guido Palau and Peter Philips, respectively.

To say that the clothing looked new or different, is too limiting. It looked unprecedented. Simply and truly, it looked otherworldly. The fabrics were printed in patterns that were a mash-up of colors from a hyper-real natural world. Perhaps articles that resurfaced, direct from a fully modernized Atlantis, the lost wonderworld McQueen titled his show after. There were dresses con-struc-ted (emphasis for em-phas-is) of fabrics printed with recognizable elements of animal prints that were uncategorizable as a whole. There were reptile skins, maybe butterfly wings? Beetle shells? Bug bodies? Croc teeth? It was a slightly scary, but wholly intriguing take on nature. Something in the evolution of whatever animals McQueen was using for his patterns had twisted and combined. In fact, the prints looked to be based on new species, super species with no current place in our system of taxonomy.

McQueen's status as a clothes maker is unparalleled. There are others who make clothes out of ideas, there are others who execute collections that lead the community of fashion in new directions, but there are so few who seam and stitch and craft garments with as much finesse and talent as Alexander. His garments are works of a master craftsman, and show every bit of his early start as an apprentice tailor on Savile Row at the age of 16. In the early days, McQueen used his talents to shock, to show the industry more than a little rebellion in the face of their traditions. He was known as an enfant terrible, a prankster of sorts who freely used the grotesque as a point of inspiration. However, his construction skills quickly defied any misgivings his behavior or source material roused. Bumster pants that showed more crack than a DEA bust may have been his first hook in the biz, but his phenomenal sense of historic preservation mixed with a dark, humorous take, and an undeniable set of skills have kept him at the top of his game for a decade plus. All of those things were on display in this award-caliber performance. Do they give out Oscars for fashion shows? They should...

I find it remarkable how uncomfortable it is to look at the shape of these shoes. Not on a sympathetic "ouch!" level, but a gut level that can't see them as possible.

The models also deserve awards. They teetered on tall shoes that weren't the typical strappy, overdone stilettos that are so boringly saturating the fashion scene of late. They were like creatures themselves--either slick biomorphic forms with smooth slopes and strikingly skinny heels, or snarled wood looking, carved forms. They absolutely complimented the shapes of the clothing.

Really, I feel like I'm rambling a stream of effusive praise that's unnecessarily verbose. You don't need any more words to enjoy this show or appreciate it's presentation. The layers of influence, meaning, and successful expression are not important to the aesthetic experience. Go; watch it; see it for yourself. The two robotic cameras that captured and catapulted the audience and models into an infinite background caught it all. Like a net. Like a trap. Go peek! Oh, the things you'll see...

Click above to see the show in its entirety.

Images from

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