LEE Alexander McQueen presented his AW96 collection, Dante in New York. Then he returned with Eye in 1999. Now, over 20 years on, Sarah Burton arrived back in the city to unveil a new kaleidoscope of looks but this time alone, without her predecessor.
With this American city rooted in the history of the British brand, the return to present a collection entitled Mycelium, inspired by community, more specifically nature’s ancient network, makes perfect sense.
“Mycelium connects even the rooftop of the tallest skyscraper to the plants, to the grass, to the ground, to animals and to human beings” explains the Creative Director in her show notes. “Mycelium has the most profound, interconnecting power, relaying messages through a magical underground structure, allowing trees to reach out to each other when either they or their young need help or are sick.”
Concentrating on this idea of community, the collection was infused with the familiar codes that make the McQueen woman.
Of course sartorialism was a main focus, shining a spotlight overseas on the House’s enviable atelier with double-breasted tailored coats with dropped hems, elongated cigarette trousers and a kickback embellished tuxedo jacket all adorning looks, but this season arriving in either the classic muted black or bright pop of acidic yellow and green.
Nuances of the past were subtly dropped beyond the obvious location change, with the most notable ode to the past being a double-breasted ivory cady suit that was finished with a print that mirrored the effects of spray-painting.
A clear tribute to the spring-summer 1999 collection, No. 13 which saw Shalom Harlow cover herself and her strapless knee-length dress in paint via two robots, the yellow and black effect brought a fond memory of Lee’s genius to the audience.
Shown to the beat of The Cure’s song A Forest, AW22 collection aptly uncovered the moss and hedgerow and translated the hidden mycelium onto the clothes.
Using embroidery to illustrate the beauty beneath, psychedelic mushroom drawings came to life in sequin and beads, exploded harnesses sat beside crystal mycelium, fishnets entrapped limbs, and silver beads were used alongside oyster pearls, all threaded together the looks to permeate this message of being one.
In the same breath, Burton recognises the cultural significance of what this collection means today with the background of news an undulating tale of horror and heartbreak. “We exist as single, individual entities on one level, but we are far more powerful connected to each other, to our families, to our friends, to our community,” she concludes.
“Given everything that has happened over the past two years, that seems more important than ever. As a community we are infinitely more able to restore, reinvent, rejuvenate – heal.”
by Imogen Clark