Sin and Salvation at Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2013
By Daniel Tehrani
Religion and nature have always been constant inspirations at the house of McQueen, but more macabre muses are also de-rigueur; think of its now-iconic skull motif or the highly controversial “Highland Rape” collection, "commemorating the English slaughter of his Scottish ancestors." In classic McQueen form, the brand's menswear collection for the Fall and Winter of 2013 gives a rather violent twist to religion that would have probably made the house's late founder proud.
The show opened with a sober navy pinstriped suit, conservative and completely ordinary until you look up at the models face -- covered in a see-through plastic mask that gives the models a look as if they'd just survived a strangling via a plastic grocery bag. Gruesome indeed, but classic McQueen. The show started off very disciplined, coiffed men with super-slick, retro pomaded hair oiled down to their forehead, who wore the gentlemanly standards: suits, vests, collared shirts, and coats in navy pinstripe with big lapels and sharp shoulders.
The collection transitioned slowly into a freer uniform as the plastic face pieces start to come off. The strictness of the first few looks is completely wiped away as a suit covered in print, a psychedelic interpretation of a stained glass window seen through a kaleidoscope, walks the runway. The whole collection seems to be inspired by Catholicism and steeped in the incense of a cathedral.
The stark and dramatic red, black and white of a cardinal's cassock is present in the collection, color blocked on pants, coats and sweaters.
The suits then take a turn towards mismatched patchwork, velvet blazers and breezy pajama robes with which the collection slowly spirals into a very decadent dandyism with creative details like these barbed wire cufflinks. In stark contrast to the staid sobriety of the first few looks, the final look is a coat sporting a black and gold Baroque motif, not unlike a Chinese dragon. From a fatherly churchgoer silenced with plastic to an opulent Orientalist swathed in luxe black and gold, the collection reads like a man descending into sin and decadence, but also illustrates a freedom and progression from confining rules of masculinity to a relaxed, more expressive state.