ALEXANDER MCQUEEN MEN’S COLLECTION SPRING/SUMMER 2011
Pomp and Circumstance
Spring/Summer 2011, the first menswear collection from Alexander McQueen under the artistic direction of Lee McQueen’s long time head of design, Sarah Burton, draws on the DNA of the house, and the archive.
This is a tightly conceived presentation in which many of the elements that have become associated with the label’s menswear are present: the use of photographic prints, exclusive fabrics treated in unusual and often casual ways, the skull motif, and the cut and paste of fabrics and patterns.
But more than this, the new collection displays an understanding that at the heart of Alexander McQueen menswear there has always been a peculiar type of Englishness: a combination of the aristocratic and military tradition of Savile Row with more gutsy elements of street style and work wear.
Here you will find a short trench coat reminiscent of those worn by World War One Tommys and stretch tweed military-style leggings to match, an adapted Eton-collar shirt, brothel creeper shoes so beloved of Teddy boys, sharp mod suits, a fisherman’s guernsey sweater cut like a sweatshirt, and baggy, shapeless work trousers.
This is the England of Alexander McQueen, a place of eclectic historical and cultural references. The new collection, like its predecessors, combines these with cutting-edge design and innovative fabric technology. The cut and paste attitude extends to the garments themselves, where a velvet jacket has pieces of fabric stitched together so the pile runs in different directions, a leather flying jacket is made from two different brown hides, Prince of Wales checks of differing colours are combined, and knitwear features military-style shoulder and elbow patches.
As you’d expect from an Alexander McQueen collection, Spring/Summer 2011 presents a myriad of unusual fabrics. Consider the cashmere that looks like linen; the luxurious hand-made unlined jacket constructed from it has a casual, utilitarian appearance – a type of sartorial in-joke. Then there is the cotton and silk bed ticking for jackets, bringing a familiar domestic pattern to play in tailoring, the classic grey morning suit cloth that’s been rendered in stretch, the exploded birds eye cotton that re-imagines a traditional blazer, and the pale camel coat that is similarly given a non-conformist twist by being made in cotton. The highlight – literally – is a “spotlight”-print evening suit,
where the cloth has been treated to look like a beam of silver light is being trained on the wearer from above. The colours throughout evoke the look of old photographs in faded black and white and sepia. All is subdued apart from flashes of red and some chinoiserie in black and gold on a silk smoking jacket, and a splash of orange and red in a kimono print.
The silhouette sees jackets slightly fuller and longer than previously and trousers either classic and tapered, or baggy and oversized. Most jackets are single-breasted, though there are a number of double-breasted styles. Notably, one of these has had its buttons raised to alter its proportions so as to create a type of modern-day frock coat.
Fabrics: natural linen, washed and dyed; natural cashmere; cotton and silk bed ticking; pinstripes that end mid-fabric; stretch tweed and stretch morning suit stripes; velvet; gold pinstripes; gold and black chinoiserie-patterned silk; Prince of Wales checks; exploded birds eye cotton.
Colours: black, white and neutral tones with red highlights and flashes of gold; an orange and red kimono print. Patterns: McQueen tartan lining for leather jackets; enlarged linen photographic print in black and white; “spotlight” photographic print; dead moth print on a V-neck sweater; skull prints – with regimental stripes, as polka dots, in a
cameo-ring print, in a coin print, as a Ben Day dots print, as a paisley print.
Accessories: ties, scarves and bandanas featuring skull prints.
Shoes: in washed and unwashed leather, and suede: classic Oxfords, monk shoes, Chelsea boots with elastic or laces, brothel creepers, desert boots, brogues, work boots; canvas cricket and tennis shoes. - End -
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