Alexander McQueen SS17 and the Downfall of our Once Beloved Couture Fashion House

WORDS BY YILING ZHAO / @YILZHAO

Alexander McQueen SS17 Finale, Paris Fashion Week








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As demonstrated throughout history, fashion mirrors society's illusions about itself. That is to say, the collections of a label are truly mirrored reflections of the lives lived through the brilliant minds and eyes of our beloved designers. Broken, romantic, and extraterrestrial had become the trademark look of the once eponymous label, Alexander McQueen.
In light of Alexander McQueen by Sarah Burton's latest presentation this PFW, there has been a recurring industry-wide discussion amongst fashion critics and youtube commenters alike. One that scrutinizes designers each time they are to continue the reign of someone before them. Raf Simons, known for his minimalist tailoring contrasted against the dramatic designs of Dior under John Galliano, had received waves of doubt from critics on his ability to pull off his first show post-Galliano. Sarah Burton most certainly receives her fair share of skepticism from crowds, as well.
The decade of Alexander McQueen under the creative direction of Lee Alexander McQueen himself, delivered us melodramatic splendors. McQueen, an individual who dared to be first to stamp an image of theatrical horror, shifted even the most timid gaze towards the appreciation of the avant-garde. In contrast, Sarah Burton's designs have become extremely repetitive and lack magic, charm, suspense, and awe. In Burton's SS17 collection, the McQueen woman is lost more-so than ever before. She walks easily and has lost her power.

SS17 look no.1
Is it fair to criticize the works of an individual when technically, they owe nothing to that who reigned before them? No. Because to say that Sarah Burton should not hold the responsibility of maintaining what once made Alexander McQueen distinguishable amongst a sea of designers vying for the title of virtuoso, is ultimately false.
Burton plays it safe season after season; yes, it's all pretty, but it's forgettable. McQueen made statements. He made people angry while sending other people's hearts aflutter. I almost wish Burton would do something so unexpected as to make people massively pissed off at her for taking the McQueen label into uncharted territory... At least McQueen would have been proud of that, as he himself always took gigantic risks. After all, he did say this about his Horn of Plenty collection: “It’s not safe in any way. It’s a punked-up McQueen It girl parody of a certain ideal, of a woman who never existed in the first place. It’s Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It’s Dior. It’s Valentino’s ladies who lunch… I want people to look at it and say, ‘What’s that? What’s that? What’s that? What’s that? What the hell is that?’” Unfortunately, we don't ask that anymore about the McQueen label.

SS17 look no.45
McQueen had the magic, the romance revisited… theatricality! I'm saddened me to see the genius fade into what has now become babydoll dresses season after season, especially when I know Burton can do so much better. She is not McQueen - but what's important now is that Burton can and will keep the brand wrapped in her charming, feminine, powergirl-esque identity, leading the McQueen label down it's second of many paths to come - whilst adding her personal touch to it in a way that is still beloved by millions.

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