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Alexander McQueen: Armored Atlantis

Godfrey Deeny
October 07th, 2009 @ 00:51 AM - Paris

The planets seemed to line up, or rather the oceans, in a memorable runway show in Paris on Tuesday, Oct. 6, by Alexander McQueen, a mixture of high-tech media, exceptional staging and fabrics that looked almost organically grown.

McQueen’s collections always reference a myriad of inspirations. This season everything from the science fiction imagery of H.R. Giger to photography of the Great Barrier Reef. While McQueen entitled this show “Plato’s Atlantis,” it felt far more like an intergalactic space trip.

The models wearing the Spring 2010 collection by McQueen looked as though they were from another planet, with added brow bones and rebuilt noses. With hair crocheted and braided into fin-like cornrows, one could not help thinking "Star Trek" Klingon cool.

Adding to the futurist feel were two cameras on huge cranes that rotated up and down the runway, projecting images of the audience onto a giant LED screen. These images were interspersed with scenes from a custom-made film by Nick Knight of a woman morphing into some bizarre aquatic creature as snakes slithered over her naked body.

Throughout the show, what sounded like a giant caged animal growled on the soundtrack as the speakers hissed and sparkled.

McQueen did not range very far when it came to his organic silhouette. The collection was principally composed of dresses with rounded shoulders, cinched waist, molded torsos and short lengths. He varied things at the finale with a series of chessmen like pieces, ending triumphantly with an all-gold leggings, boots and dress combo, and winning the heartiest applause of the French season.

But as the fabrics were so fantastical, this was probably a smart decision. These were some of the most innovative materials seen at a McQueen show. The fused fabrics looked like they been grown biologically in some lab, while praying mantis and deep sea animal imagery prints were pretty remarkable. It was biotechnology chic.

Another audacious idea were his remarkable shoes. Some were fantastical contraptions with heels like arcane metal armor, others were built like lobster pinchers – footwear that might eat you.

Like in previous seasons, McQueen skipped out of the show space – for a few years he has staged his runway events in an underground boxing arena – without speaking to the press.

But in his program notes, he opined in a sentence as complex as this collection: “the marine phenomenon of bioluminescence inspires the mood, the idea of survival and the way in which we adapt in order to survive is mirrored by the use of phosphorescent sequins and opalescent beads."

One hitch, however, was that McQueen’s plan to live stream the event online came to an end when so many people logged on that the Web site jammed.

As complex and rather overwhelming this McQueen collection might have been, it was also a great statement from the richest imagination in fashion, an artist whose most elegant setting is his runway spectacles.

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