Alexander McQueen The warehouse show space and the square formation of the audience resembled the grand spectacles that Lee McQueen used to put on. He seemed to have preferred the audience on all sides, looking in. Perhaps it was about adjusting the gaze inwards, a sensibility much ingrained in Lee’s work. It was true of Voss from Spring/Summer 2001 inspired by Joel-Peter Witkin and it was true of The Girl Who Lived In A Tree, still remembered as one of his seminal shows.
But Sarah Burton’s ode to her predecessor was more than just through its presentation format. Military suiting and old world Victorian values messaged today were very much curiosities Lee explored. It was about sartorial discipline, reining it in and working with the codes of uniforms and uniformity — “a symbol that all men are equal in the face of duty”, as mentioned in the show notes. Slogans like “Valour, Truth, Honour” adorned the immaculately tailored garments as if to restore nobility in men’s clothing. Crystal embellishments like medallions decorated jacquard tabards, velvet saltires and chesterfield frock coats.
Imagery of the military extended beyond just the physical. Poppy, often used to symbolise the remembrance of war heroes, was used heavily in this collection. Even the blue and crimson from the collection seemed particularly patriotic.
It all felt like a departure from the usual. The audience was in fact looking into the legacy of Lee McQueen, especially elements of Regency from his Savile Row training . Five years after his tragic departure, his presence is very much like the old ideals fleshed out today, long gone but not forgotten.