Alexander McQueen returned home, to London, with a magnificent spring/summer 2022 catwalk show in the clouds, inside its very own fashion bubble, with views across the capital from the top of a car park.
The British fashion house, part of the Kering family, usually shows during Paris Fashion Week, but since the pandemic, it has instead chosen to release its collections digitally with films shot in the mud on the banks of the Thames to against the backdrop of the wondrous chalky white cliffs at Newhaven beach.
For spring/summer 2022, McQueen’s creative director Sarah Burton was inspired by the sky and its “ever-changing, all-encompassing magnificence”. The designer explained that the artwork for the prints was all shot from the rooftop of the fashion house’s studio, which has the “most incredible views of the city” from Saint Paul’s Cathedral to the London Eye.
The magnificence of the sky was projected into the breathtaking show space, a transparent, reusable cloud-like structure designed by the architect Smiljan Radic on the roof of Tobacco Docks Yellow Park in Wapping, East London. The bubble shimmered, with the late afternoon sun trying to peek through the clouds, which was a striking contrast to the eerie storm soundtrack by John Gosling before the show started.
The whole production was a visual fashion storm, from the location perfectly placed, high in the clouds, to see all aspects of London’s skyline, from the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf to The Shard and the Gherkin, to the intimate circular catwalk with models appearing from a hidden staircase in the middle, to the expressive prints and looser silhouettes, and supermodel Naomi Campbell closing proceedings in style.
Sarah Burton inspired by London’s changeable skies for Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 2022
This was a stand-alone show filled with darkness and light, coming through the storm of the pandemic with unpredictable skies into brighter, happier times with sunshine yellow tulle dresses and vibrant pink tailored suits.
The collection itself showcased the power of nature and the contrasts of changeable weather with pieces that balanced femininity with edgy, masculine detailing. From floaty dresses printed with photographs of sunrises, blue skies and clouds, to tailored coats and shirts with cloud-like sleeves, while wind-blown inspired trench coats had voluminous parachute sleeves and crystal “raindrop” embroidery was on everything from dresses, skirts, and jackets to thigh-high boots.
Burton explained in the show notes: “We watched the weather and captured the formation and colouration of clouds from daybreak to nightfall and documented changing patterns, from clear blue skies to more turbulent ones. That led me to storm chasing.
“I love the idea of the McQueen woman being a storm chaser, of the qualities of storm chasing uniting the passionately individual community of characters wearing the clothes. They inhabit the same universe and the clothes are inspired by and made for them. Storm chasing is not only about the beauty of the views but also a sense of mystery and excitement – about embracing the fact that we can’t ever be sure of what might happen next.”
Like the changeable sky, Burton offers a contrasting palette for spring/summer 2022, with feminine corseted, sequin-heavy, and off-the-shoulder dresses toughened with zipped and buckled detailing, boxy tailored suits, stylish cropped aviator leather jackets, and punk-inspired platform boots.
Alexander McQueen ‘London Skies’ SS22
Highlights included sequinned shard rain embroidered tank dresses, an off-the-shoulder taffeta dress with a moody sky cloud print, a delicate pink shredded tulle and crystal-embellished corset dress and a look that combined the feel of working from home with the new ‘going out’ - a cropped white cotton-jersey sweatshirt with crystal raindrop embroidery teamed with an exploded skeleton skirt.
Naomi Campbell closed the show with a storm wearing a cropped single-breasted tailored jacket with crystal raindrop embroidery over a strapless skeletal corset dress with an asymmetric skirt and shredded tulle storm cloud embroidery.
This was the first McQueen catwalk show in 18-months and the brand’s first for 20 years in London, and it was well worth the wait.