Alexander McQueen was fiercely protective of and loyal to his family, particularly where it concerned his sisters and his mother. For McQueen, clothes could protect and project power and strength, which is why he made his women look like ferocious, unapproachable warriors.
Centuries spent under patriarchal rule have not been kind to women, as evidenced by a year flooded with horrifying #MeToo stories that proved corruption and depravity exist in every nook and every cranny of every industry.
For Fall/Winter 2018, designers retaliated by giving women big comforting blankets to wrap around themselves, as well as protective suits and outerwear, and the Alexander McQueen show had similar intents in store for the season. Designer Sarah Burton, who has remained faithful to McQueen’s original vision, wanted women to feel powerful, even vindicated. Working from a theme of fetishism, she focused her aesthetic on a unique interplay between vulnerability and strength by combining butterfly-wing prints with shocks of bondage leather.
Working from a theme of fetishism, Sarah Burton focused her aesthetic on a unique interplay between vulnerability and strength.
It all started with a variety of swaggering suits; at McQueen, the new power suit features a wider shoulder, a bulkier sleeve, and a fitted waist. Some were trimmed with fringe and others with scarf attachments. In the mix were molded bodices, leather halters attached to buttery-soft skirts, and thick corset belts.
Some prints mimicked the look of butterfly wings with their exotic, organic etchings, and they looked especially amazing when transformed into draped dresses in monochrome. One particular show-stopping cape morphed the print into a dense fringe. Another wow-moment came swishing down the runway, sprouting feathers and fully fringed, followed by a black dress upholstered in crimson fringe that looked like a bird of paradise. No one is doing fringe better than McQueen right now – you can bet on that. After that came hybrid cocktail dress-blazers with big pink ruffles on the shoulder that resembled wings in the act of taking flight. It was all perfectly balanced between soft and hard, light and dark, fragile and severe – a message that both explored and protected the dualities of women.