Creative Director Sarah Burton urges us to open our eyes to see the beauty around and within ourselves in Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2023 – “Visionary”. Showing for Frieze Week London, Burton searches for human connection through stripped-back cuts and silhouettes, drawing on a number of inspirations.

Credit: Alexander McQueen

The inflatable soap bubble was home to yet another Alexander McQueen show for SS23, taking place in London as show-goers were offered a 360 degree view of the Old Royal Naval College twin towers. 

The dome first seen at McQueen’s SS22 show was designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic. With sustainability at the forefront, the dome was designed to be disassembled and reused again for future shows.

“We wanted to be in a space that was completely reusable. It’s been stored and we reused it. We just painted the floor white,” Burton explained. 

The Human Consciousness

Credit: Alexander McQueen

For Burton, the eye of the beholder became a visible symbol of the human consciousness for the ‘Visionary’ SS23 show.

“It’s about seeing things and not walking around with your eyes shut – seeing each other! Seeing humanity, recognising each other, and caring about each other,” she said.

The sentiment reinforces itself through the notable use of the eye motif on the garments. Offerings of black and white gowns with a butterfly silhouette, dotted with the print of red and blue eyeballs featured alongside viscose cady suits with the same design.

Meanwhile, the great Naomi Campbell walked the runway in a crystallised body-suit detailing a large iris and pupil at it’s centre.

“It’s really about how to find the humanity in these very difficult times that we live in. That’s what the eye represents. It’s the most unique symbol of humanity,” she affirmed.

Additionally, bright, multi-coloured bodysuits with pom-pom fringing burst vibrancy throughout the collection whilst an asymmetrical orange skirt demonstrated McQueen’s signature use of sculpted leather and waist-cinching corsetry.

Boschian Influence

Credit: Alexander McQueen

To further reinforce Burton’s message, the collection borrowed influence from the Renaissance paintings of Hieronymous Bosch.

Manifesting in bursts of colour, on the embellishments decorating corsets and dresses and in the delicate embroidery, depicting a Boschian composition intersecting with the eye motif wonderfully.

“When you look at those triptychs and those paintings, they’re so beautiful. But when you look very closely, there’s a very dark narrative there. The strange juxtaposition of humanity behaving in one way and nature behaving in another,” Burton said.

When describing the Dutch artist’s work, she recalls it to be both dark and beautiful, “It feels almost like we’re in another dark age … it’s something we’ve always looked at, at McQueen: life, destruction, beauty.”

McQueen is Bringing Back the Bumster

Credit: Alexander McQueen

For Burton, the message was also undeniably about female empowerment. It ponders how a woman can dress to guarantee her empowerment in contemporary society.

The collection plays with the proportions of the body. Burton embraces and reveals the female form. And he subtly dissects voluminous garments to render the female body visible.

It seems Burton continues to uphold the essence of Lee Alexander McQueen. Sharp cuts result in tailored forms, whilst subverting the conventions of couture – which is traditionally preoccupied with concealing the body.

Black woollen trousers reintroduce Lee Alexander McQueen’s bumster cut. They come together with sharp black double-breasted blazer jackets with bold and asymmetrical cuts. Burton slices these away, leaving the waist and hips exposed and visible, a beautiful celebration.

“It’s always about a woman dressing for a woman. It’s not a male gaze,”

Says Burton.

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