“Love You,” the invitation announced. As you moved it around, the lenticular lips puckered up with a Rocky Horror relish. But what Alexander McQueen really wanted to convey was the “über glamour” of seventies discos (in fact, he said he wanted “über über”). With such a goal, his new collection was hardly going to speak to this particular season, which has already pitched its tent for pajamalike ease. And it wasn’t actually a collection that spoke to warm weather in any shape or form, making the surface-of-the sun temperature in the show venue that much more intolerable. (One sympathized with the model who had to bear the final outfit, a metal-fronted, zip-backed jacket that must have felt like a giant, binding foundation garment.)
Nevertheless, the clothes McQueen showed had a fetishistic power, which had everything to do with their intense focus on the body. Start with his tailoring, which defined a man’s body (as opposed to the slender frames of the 90-pound weaklings that pass for mannequins on many catwalks). Add the panels of sheer fabric that allowed glimpses of the flesh moving beneath the garments, or the graphics that hinted at skeletal structure (the most spectacular were jacquard coils of smoke on the front of a jacket—they looked like a rib cage). Another alluring effect was the veiling laid over a jacket or tee. Curious that on the same day in Milan, two designers—McQueen and Miuccia Prada—should both toy with the idea of phantom garments. How does that improve your wardrobe, you ask? Well, it doesn’t, but it’s still a hell of a pretty idea.
by tim blanks
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