02 October 2013 by

Alexander McQueen Spring Summer 2014: Abstract Expression

A landscape of coloured oblongs of sand more than a little reminiscent of the work of Piet Mondrian and Bauhaus and overhung by a stretched silk sky greeted guests as they filed into the historic Garde Republicaine for the Alexander McQueen show in Paris - a sign of Modernist thing to come.

This was the first main line collection designed by that label's creative director, Sarah Burton, since she returned to work following the birth of twin daughters early this year and she is clearly on fine form.

The show was a significant move forward for the designer who has already proved herself more than able since taking over from Alexander McQueen himself in 2010.

In place of last season's exquisitely overblown designs, here came short, sharp, fringed kilts worn over tapered trousers, graphic prints and embroideries - more grids, circles and squares  - and a silhouette reminiscent at times of the rectilinear shapes of the 1920s over and above the hourglass line and love of Victoriana this label is more readily known for.

Restricting the colour palette almost entirely to red, white, blue and black, the designer employed the attention to surface detail she understands well - pleating, bulleting, fringing, puncturing, elaborate embroideries and beading  - all also based on complex geometries. Imagine a triple pleated white organza skirt finished with black stripes achieved by rows of tiny beads sewn into its folds.

In place of signature corsetry came a dropped waistline although the exaggerated McQueen hip added volume and the harnessing that has long been part of the label"s handwriting made for a tough edge.

The couture-inspired level of workmanship that has been seen on more than a few Paris runways is very much at home here. Exotic skins - ostrich, crocodile, the softest suedes - came trimmed with aged metal pins and zips. Feathered dresses, meanwhile, referenced the ethnic diversity that has had such a strong presence throughout the Paris season and the exuberance of Art Deco.

As for pattern, the digital designs that have ruled this particular runway for some time had been cast aside in favour of traditional screen printing the placement of which was as perfect as ever.

All in all, clothes were a marvellous mix of opulence and restraint, modernity and tradition, form and function. Sportswear (leather jogging bottoms), diverse cultural references (that zip trim and the aforementioned beadwork) and a commitment to modernity inspired by pioneering movements in early Twentieth Century art and architecture were all in place.

Watch the full show below...


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Valerie Essadouny (Wed Apr 02 12:27:34 BST 2014): colours fantastic but who is going to wear these clothes certainly not ordinary women so who are they designing for