The Alexander McQueen show Savage Beauty at the V&A is a triumph. It reveals how his work was all about the line
The triumph of the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty show, previewing today at the V&A, is how it allows for a clear study of line.
So often, McQueen’s garments were defined by the absolute clarity and fearlessness of his line, either cut or constructed.
A coat from Dante, AW96 – a work of extraordinary tension and control.
It is the line at the waist, the lines down the chest, and the feat of that jutting line angled out to the side.
A jacket from The Dance Of The Twisted Bull, SS02, with a jacket from La Poupée, SS97, behind.
The cut sleeves of that jacket from La Poupée.
A frock coat from McQueen’s graduate collection, Jack The Ripper Stalks His Victims, 1992.
Consulting curator Andrew Bolton said this was one of the garments added to the show since it debuted at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 2011.
Behind it is a frockcoat from No13, SS99.
Another piece from his 1992 graduate collection.
Line as cut and construction: the wrap and sash belt from What A Merry-Go-Round, AW01.
Line from slashes – a slash-sleeved jacket from Dante, AW96.
I’m fairly sure Andrew said this was a new piece.
As are the looks in the new opening room, which focus on his early London shows.
And all of which show the importance of line.
A slashed skirt from The Hunger, SS96, the lines of the cut a provocation.
A slashed dress from Highland Rape, AW95.
Jacket and skirt from Highland Rape, AW95.
The construction of the shoulder.
The severity of the Highland Rape cut – jacket and bumsters.
The exaggerated line of It’s A Jungle Out There, AW97.
Bumster skirt and trousers – the definitive line that dissects the body.
From No13, SS99, two experiments with the trouser: the Kick Back, and the S-Bend.
The S-Bend trousers are from Amie Witton-Wallace, McQueen’s PR through the 90s and much of the 00s.
Lines to create character – a jacket from Joan, AW98.
The eloquence of line – this simple, distorted jumpsuit from La Poupée, SS97.
All of these pieces are in the first two rooms.
This morning, once the preview crowd had passed through, I was able to spend time with these pieces pretty much on my own.
The power of his line is all around, and informs all else that follows.
A few pieces from the very many.
That swooping fanned-out line from No13, SS99.
Extraordinary slashed and draped lines from The Hunger, SS96.
Boxed and wrapped lines from Voss, SS01.
The stitched line that gives macabre narrative to a bodice from No13, SS99.
The decorated line of that famous jacket from Voss, SS01.
A close up of the chrysanthemum cloth, the flowers allowed to create their own line.
The lines of ruffle down the dress from The Widows Of Culloden, AW06.
The lines both severe and decorative of one of his very last dresses, from AW10.
Once you start looking for line, it is everywhere.
Alexander McQueen’s strength of line was in each of his decisive acts.
It his great legacy.
I thought I’d seen all the shows before I left Paris. But then came Comme Comme, and the extraordinary – and secret – first mini-show by Noir
I’ve been in Paris on a busman’s holiday, here for work and catching some shows at the same time.
After yesterday’s can’t-believe-I-saw-it Comme des Garçons show, I said to a member of its staff that I’d see them in London.
What about Comme Comme, they said.
In menswear, there’s always a Comme SHIRT mini-show the next morning.
For women’s, it’s Comme des Garçons Comme des Garçons.
At 9.15am sharp.
It was lovely.
A track top.
A leopard coat.
Lace over white, a real life take on many of the garments in the Comme show itself.
There was music, and the music was suddenly switched off, and it was over, and everyone clapped.
But then there was more.
Upstairs, in a new space in the Comme showroom, was the first ever mini-show by Noir, a label that’s been running for three or four seasons under the Comme umbrella.
It is the work of Kei Ninomiya, who was given his own label by Rei Kawakubo.
For this first show there was no invite, no fanfare, a changeable start time.
Most of the audience were clients.
There were meant to be no press, but a few of us were invited in – three I think, including myself.
It began at sometime around 9.45am.
The work was feats of construction.
It was one of those shows that caused conflict: take photos, or just watch?
I did half half.
A zip up coat, the knots creating petals.
A jacket held together by studs, the construction providing decoration.
As is the beauty and density of black, many of the garments barely registered in the pics I took.
It made it easier to put my phone down.
One dress was particularly extraordinary, with a line of fold and construction circling down the body.
The photographer Chris Moore was there, as were a couple of others.
Hopefully images of the collection will appear on style.com – it deserves wide attention.
An end to my time here I didn’t know would occur.
An honour to see.
And now home.
Junya Watanabe’s new women’s collection may appear to be pure fantasy. But within it, can you find pure logic?
More and more, I think about logic in clothing.
If what we wear can be reduced to logic.
Or if indeed the illogical is the attraction.
Junya Watanabe’s collection this morning was one of those that got me going.
His garments featured folded-out constructions, like paper lanterns, or 3D mathematical landscapes.
Each garment had the precision to allow the folds to sit with levity.
The logic of construction.
But in many of the best looks, there was a logic of dressing too.
I’ve been considering a successful formula for dressing: two parts sober, one part decorative.
Wierdly, it came to me when I was reviewing the Burberry men’s show for the FT back in January, and I was trying to explain a look that balanced sober shearlings and cords with pretty florals in the same garment.
The sobriety of the first two allowed for the decoration of the latter.
This happened today at Junya, albeit in a different way.
Underpinning the collection were some excellent crisp white shirts and black trousers.
They were worn with almost half of the looks.
And allowed the collection to be two parts sober (white shirt, black trouser) and one part decorative (garment of elaborate folds).
Here’s the look at its most simple, with just w decorative scarf of repeat mini-pyramids.
!!!!!UPSIDE DOWN PHOTO ALERT!!!!
***AS WITH ALL CATWALK PHOTOS, I TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN***
^^^SO YOU CAN LOOK THROUGH THE RECOGNISABLE IMAGE TO SEE THE CLOTHES BENEATH^^^
(Pics nicked from the wondrous style.com)
The decorative element became more extreme – here’s a long cape of pulled apart cuts.
But still, black trouser, white shirt.
The same effect on the sleeves of a grey biker.
A red cape top.
And yes technically there’s now a decorative headpiece too, but I don’t count this as a garment.
I think the two parts/one part logic still stands.
A coat with an unfolded open front.
View the whole collection, and there are of course many looks which defy this logic.
The importance of the illogical.
But I think one of the reasons the work was so successful were these precise and sober garments at its heart, balancing out the invention.
Most in the audience had to run straigh after, but I’m here in Paris on a busman’s holiday, only attending a handful of shows for my own pleasure.
It meant I could hang around the Palais de Tokyo.
It’s current exhibitions made the setting of Junya’s show there apt.
Much there was about balance, levity and construction.
A canvas by Takis that holds metallic cones in place, as if suspended in air, by magnets.
The balanced rock sculptures of Bridget Polk.
The extraordinary Strandbeests created by Theo Jansen, which each summer walk on a Dutch beach powered by wind.
A Strandbeest on film.
In real life.
Some of its component parts.
A mist catcher created by Carlos Espinosa, which capture humidity in arid mineral areas to allow organic materials to grow.
And then some illogic.
The Chindogu of Kenji Kawakami.
Almost useful objects.
Like this Housework Sleeping Suit.
Or this toothpick cover.
Swiss Army knife gloves.
Blinds for face.
The Ten Commandments of Chindogu.
Gloriously, importantly illogical.
Such are the things that are seen on a Saturday in Paris.
Jun Takahashi just showed his autumn/winter 2015 Undercover show in Paris.
It was extraordinary, a proper show rather than a parade of product, as so many are nowadays.
Here are some images.
A trench, extended.
All the models had those face masks, by the way.
Can you see the knife on the left chest of this draped entrail coat?
More than a hint of the overriding theme.
BTW don’t the cut off jeans beneath look great?
A biker, warped at the back.
A warped baseball jacket.
I mean amazing.
A warped bomber.
Slashing sometimes leads to joining – a little jacket, jewelled collar and adjoining trench tails.
Not sure how what joins on to what exactly.
Similarly, a cardigan/shirt/slashed trouser/lining combo.
Kind of extraordinary.
Time for some real slashing.
Slashed plastic jacket, which walked out to a Hitchcock soundtrack.
(Those of greater Hitchcock knowledge would be able to say which film)
(I mean it’s obvious which one I want to guess but still)
A longer plastic coat.
The last looks came out to Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt.
A shard coat.
A shard pantsuit.
An unsettling, jolting, absolute pleasure.
And in creepy hand news, a couple of the looks had prints of that creepy hand I wrote about during menswear.
End of creepy hand update!
And, um, end of whatever this is!
Not a review.
Just me gabbling on really.
The menswear students in this year’s Central Saint Martins MA show were exceptionally strong.
It featured the work of the last students to have been selected for the course by Professor Louise Wilson, who died last year.
Each of the students showing menswear were unique and with their own voice, yet each were interested in showing garments, as opposed to an imposition of fantasy.
Their work instead was fantasy reality.
A suit by James Theseus Buck, with an added dildo from out of the fly.
I posted a different pic of this look on Instagram last night, and @kikokostadinov said that the dildo was “resin casted with flowers in between”
Whether this is fact or conjecture I can’t tell.
More from James, whose course was actually Textiles For Fashion.
A blur, but this look was feathered.
An apron look.
I loved the rigour in functionality of the work of Ben Rice.
A keen control of proportion.
Maximilian Riedlberger showed work that was super slick and assured.
These wide trousers were excellent.
He was playful too.
Eric Litzén had great sense of colour and proportion.
Crop and shine.
Do you see what I mean about garments?
Even when they entered into experimentation, it was always grounded in an idea of actual clothing.
Which wasn’t the case in the womenswear students at all.
I found the men’s students so super exciting.
Their work felt alive with future possibilities of what menswear could be.
And the effect they can have on what men wear. In real life.
The European menswear shows for AW15 finished three weeks ago now.
Ever since, I’ve been thinking about gender.
Many of the shows put men in women’s clothing or cloth – most pointedly Gucci.
In my reviews for the FT, it was something of which I was mostly dismissive.
Was I too curmudgeonly?
I normally fall hard for catwalk experimentation.
Maybe it’s to do with the individual hand – it’s something I find convincing when it comes from independents, like Meadham Kirchhoff’s exceptional and much-missed menswear presentations, or the new work of Grace Wales Bonner.
From independents, it has the sense of an individual confronting, challenging and indulging his own gender beliefs.
From a billion dollar conglomerate, it feels more like a styling imposition.
It also seems separate from the way people are wearing clothes today, which is moving towards gender neutrality.
I was in Mexico City the other week, and I overheard an American woman say how, since she’d moved there, she’d stopped wearing heels.
It was 26 degrees there during the day, but cold at night. Most men and women were wearing the same – some sort of jacket, then a vivid coloured top and jeans, with sneakers.
Back in London, I’d been avoiding looking at people’s clothes, because it didn’t seem fair: hot there, cold here, yaboo sucks etcetc.
But then yesterday morning at Columbia Road flower market, I became aware of this same neutrality.
The day after Valentine’s.
Men and women basically dressed the same, especially on the lower half of their bodies.
I started taking photos.
So many women were wearing jeans or leggings and sneakers, I started looking for women dressed like the past.
These two were a juxtaposition. One moment this:
She was the only woman I saw, after an hour of looking, dressed according to old codes of prettification or whatever.
I took a seat outside of Printers & Stationers on Ezra Street – that cobbled courtyard.
More and more neutrality.
Of course there were differences.
Some women were in Uggs or similar.
Others had a slight stack heel on their shoe or boot.
But I was sat there in Cuban heels, so more neutrality.
Mostly, there was balance.
Look at these two.
Don’t you wish I’d moved that blue chair?
I found it fascinating, particularly with women’s shows starting this weekend, and the new glut of very non-neutral street style photos from outside the venues.
Though obviously 99.9% of those actually in the shows will be in sneakers and jeans.
I found the Public School show fascinating for its neutrality.
****UPSIDE DOWN PHOTO ALERT****
+++AS WITH ALL CATWALK PICTURES, I TURN THEM UPSIDE DOWN+++
A women’s look.
(Pics nicked from the glorious style.com)
A men’s look.
Pretty much neutrality.
There was a similar story at Telfar.
Among other craziness.
A women’s look.
A men’s look.
The mass movement in gender, separate from individual experimentation.
!!!HANDBAG WATCH!!! A highly scientific study of the handbags carried at the opening of Zona Maco, Mexico City
+++A HIGHLY SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF THE HANDBAGS CARRIED AT ART FAIRS AROUND THE WORLD+++
For the first time in Handbag Watch history, Handbag Watch is reporting live (ish) from the preview day of Zona Maco in Mexico City which um actually happened yesterday.
I needs me a margarita so let’s keep this brief.
Starting time: 17.48
And…. STOP. At 18.09
No shade but man there’s a lot of um bags with heavy um inspiration.
I mean seriously – look at the one sharing a table with my frozen margarita.
Of the handbags that are bona fide, here are the scores on the doors:
1st: CELINE – five bags
Mostly those ones with the flappy side bits.
You know the ones I mean.
Look I’ve started my margarita OK?
Boy it’s strong.
1st EQUAL: CHANEL – five bags!!!
A last minute sighting of one just as Handbag Watch was drawing a veil – it was one of of those squishy ones that Lilly Allen advertised – brought Chanel into 1st equal position.
Bonus point for one of the Chanels being from that Lego collection.
3rd: BOTTEGA VENETA – four bags
4th EQUAL: HERMÈS – three bags
Including one lime green Birkin.
Do they do Birkins in line green?
OMG look at the man who was with the lime green Birkin lady!
Full look McQueen suit!!!
The full look McQueen is hiding the lime green Birkin.
OK let’s continue.
4th EQUAL: GUCCI – three bags
Two old school canvas print.
The other a squishy leather one embossed with some big Gs.
6th EQUAL: BALENCIAGA – two bags
You know, Ghesquière’s era.
6th EQUAL: LOUIS VUITTON – two bags
Neither Ghesquière’s era.
6th EQUAL: MK MICHAEL KORS two bags
And, to make it even more chic, the women carrying the MK Michael Kors bags were walking round together.
Different styles, same brand.
9th EQUAL: DIOR – one bag
Princess Di-appropriate black Lady Dior.
9th EQUAL: PRADA – one bag
A demure thing on a chain with a leather covered clasp from a few seasons ago.
9th EQUAL: GOYARD – one bag
8th EQUAL: TORY BURCH – one bag
Ohgod shall we stop?
!!!BONUS ROUND… BAGS CARRIED BY MEN!!!!
1st EQUAL: LOUIS VUITTON – one bag
A cross-body courier.
1st EQUAL: GOYARD – one bag
It was like a Goyard bag, you know? Like they all are.
!!!END OF BONUS ROUND!!!
***BONUS BONUS ROUND: BELTS WORN BY MEN!!!***
1st: HERMÈS – one belt.
A big old H buckle affair worn slightly skewiff.
***END OF BONUS BONUS ROUND!!!***