Alexander McQueen loved to take his audience on a journey – whether it was through the windy Scottish highlands or to a strange futuristic sea world. Sarah Burton took up the same challenge for S/S 14 by bringing us along with her on the journey through a man’s whole life, tracking his ceremonial highs and lows through clothing, from his christening, hence those pure white lace opening looks, to his working life through to his eventually passing, suggested in that distressed, mournful closing tailoring. Burton had also made the fashion pack journey to a new location – an eerie corner of King’s Cross under the disused railway arches. Here, the Dickensian cobbles and dripping concrete provided a suitably theatrical setting for such an anticipated presentation, while the nod to Central Saint Martins – the location was directly next to the new premises – was a touching reminder of the greatness of McQueen’s earliest work in London.
There’s always something sinister and Burtonian – Tim that is, not Sarah – about McQueen menswear. These clothes had the impression of being left someway, gathering dust, packed away by a generation before only to be rediscovered and reappropriated by a new man. So the ghosts of the original looks remained in the Edwardian cuts, distressed yarns and faded fabrics and brocades, while the new modern take shone through in details like arm holes that had been left frayed as if a new wearer had ripped off the jacket sleeves to update the look.
Just as McQueen loved to take us on a journey, he also liked to find lightness in the dark – that’s one of the lasting codes of his house. Today, there was a sense of something emerging from the shadows – quite literally given that cinematic smoke that enveloped the start of the runway. The theme seemed to be rebirth and resistance, these men had been through toil and trouble, you could see that from the tattered state of their once impeccable, aristocratic clothes, but they were striding forward, ready for more.