Monday night, for the first time in its five-year history, Alexander McQueen’s McQ line took to the runway in a dark London warehouse. And thanks to Sarah Burton’s cryptic conceptual theatrics, as well as the dramatic clothes that captured the couture-level essence of the main line, McQ’s grand fashion week debut did not disappoint.
With their hair coiffed into halos, models marched down a crunchy leaf-covered runway in ’40s military looks—over-the-knee boots were laced up tight beneath classic dress coats and sculpted skirts, some of which were heavily embroidered and given extra volume via elegant peplums while others were done in luxurious burgundy velvets. The brand’s signature tartan appeared on an exaggerated A-line coat, as well as a menswear kilt, which, worn by Yuri Pleskun, looked smart with knee socks and a black jacket. Polished severity was added via black leather belts finished with chain embellishments, and demure tulle dresses in New Look shapes were paired with ladylike leather opera gloves.
Attention to detail on flower-appliqué tulle minis, stern construction, pops of fur, and lamb-embellished leather coats made onlookers forget they were previewing a diffusion line. However, the true highlight of this runway spectacle was the performance that accompanied its final look. Worn by Kristen McMenamy, a white tulle frock closed the show. With the spotlight on her powdered face, McMenamy stared up to the heavens, seemingly in a trance, before turning around to grab a rope hidden beneath the leaves. Pulling herself back up the runway, the lights went up to reveal an actual forest that the resourceful McQueen team had created. The model disappeared into a dilapidated cabin nestled in the darkness, an action that could easily have been taken as some kind of metaphorical death. But just as it seemed to be over, rave music exploded and strobe lights flashed from the wooden shack, which, thanks to a neon sign in the window, was later revealed to be “Core Club.” As guests exited through the foggy woods, they peered in to find animal pelts, stamped club tickets, vintage liquor bottles and the white witch herself still inside the red-lit structure. “I did sell my soul to the devil,” joked McMenamy while chatting with editors post-show. Devil or no, the show and the performance possessed a chilling otherworldly quality that seemed decidedly Lee McQueen.