The aesthetics of dark pleasure - Alexander McQueen Autumn/Winter 2023

Maria Vanyovszki

From the very beginning, Alexander McQueen's aesthetic has been inspired by darkness. But the pain of the creative genius who founded the house has been transformed by Sarah Burton into a whole new quality: joy and pleasure. The creative director, who leaves the house this year, has masterfully combined the elegance of high fashion with the wild tools of modernity to create garments that speak to the soul.
Several pieces from the autumn winter collection are already sold out.
Launched in Paris earlier this year, the collection was inspired by experimentation with anatomy and beauty. Along classic lines, pieces were taken apart and then reassembled, sometimes turning familiar sights completely upside down. Masterfully tailored coats are paired with knitted dresses interspersed with huge floral patterns, cut and patched skirts. The orchid appears as a symbol of love, embroidered on clothes and printed on accessories.
„The most prominent motif in the collection is the orchid, in its rarer forms cultivated but, after the daisy, the most common flower. It thrives in the air, resists being rooted and grows in the wild. Extraordinarily beautiful and infinitely adaptable, the orchid mimics both predator and prey. In the language of flowers, the orchid is a symbol of love." - says the creative director.

Good fashion plays intelligently and freely with sexuality.

Alexander McQueen is way ahead of other couture fashion houses in this respect too. Founder Lee McQueen regularly descended into the deepest recesses of the shadows, to take inspiration from there and hold a reflection of what life is through the deconstruction of high fashion.

Sarah Burton draws on this heritage when she focuses on the anatomy of the human body. In the description of the collection, she refers to the orchid as a symbol of love, while we have all noticed that the flower in its forms evokes the shape of the female genital organ, referring to the diversity of our body parts.
In addition to the clothes, it can also be found on many accessories.
With Sarah Burton's departure, it is even more significant what the fashion house sends to the catwalks and markets with her aesthetic this year and next.
In preparing the autumn-winter collection, she consciously turned to archival dresses created by Lee, which formed the basis of the aesthetic of the entire line. Their influence created a collection that captured the desire to reinterpret elegance and simplify shapes.
She traced her ideas about dressing and studying the body back to Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical drawings. The cut backs of knitted garments, cut at the hips, took on a new, darker context.
The veiled references to blood and intestines were transformed and sublimated into asymmetrical ruffles and prints, sometimes resembling giant orchids, and in others the drawings of dissected bodies.
"Muscular and fragile" is how Sarah Burton described them, as well as the duality of men and women on her catwalk. The female models took warlike shapes in shield-effect and dominant leather suits, while the men wore Victorian corseted waistcoats over white shirts with dramatic tailored trousers.
Sarah Burton has started her farewell collection with this one, a nod to the past and her earliest collaboration with Lee McQueen. The Spring/Summer 2024 wardrobe, unveiled a few days ago, is a fitting continuation of this, which we will soon be writing about here.
Photos: Alexander McQueen

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