Friday, 22 November 2013


After the controversy surrounding ‘Highland Rape’, McQueen decided to move towards a less relatable concept for his following collection, ‘The Hunger’ (which can be seen in full here). The overarching inspiration for this collection was vampires – the inspiration arguably extends to macabre imagery in general but the collection seemed more about vampires than anything else as it focused on the fetishisation of the body, the hunger for flesh. Many argued that McQueen was already rehashing old ideas, and it is true that nudity wasn’t exactly new ground for the designer, but the approach to the nudity was different – it showed the naked body in an almost cannibalistic way, and there was a kind of perversion and aggression to the way that the models flaunted their skin, unlike the vulnerable, threatened girls that we saw in ‘Highland Rape’.

The first portion of the show was, by McQueen standards, relatively restrained. It was clear that McQueen was perfecting his own take on the minimalist style of his contemporaries – the heavy use of black and white, the angular cuts and geometric sheer panels were all incredibly chic, striking and (perhaps most surprisingly) wearable. Although the models sported gothic make-up and dramatic mohawks, the overall aesthetic was both cool and futuristic, and the translucent materials subtly introduced the concept of the collection.

Suddenly, the mood began to change. The runway emptied as red strobe lights pulsed throughout the building for at least a minute – the red was a nod towards danger, the music building slowly towards a macabre climax. The climax came as a model stomped out in a metallic silver dress complete with structured fencing mask which seemed to encase the model’s face completely. The masking of the face is a technique frequently used in horror films – it represents the fear of the unknown and creates an air of menace. Ironically, the mask is a tool that has been utilised by many influential designers (most notably Hussein Chalayan and Martin Margiela), and it is a look that McQueen has repeated; to see the initial shock surrounding the mask seems surprising as it has become a McQueen signature of sorts.

The remainder of the show was in much the same vein as the fencing mask – while the clothes themselves were both beautiful and highly wearable, the nods to horror came thick and fast. One male model walked in a white linen shirt stained with bloody handprints, whereas another came out in a black suit under which his neck was encased in a white plastercast emblazoned with (one of McQueen’s typical comedic references) illustrations of an ejaculating penis. The colour scheme soon turned from red to black as a series of beautiful black dresses came out adorned with delicate swatches of lace and delicate floral prints. The more romantic looks were a welcome interlude to the darkness of the show and once again demonstrated McQueen’s innate ability to counterbalance hard and soft; this ability helped him avoid the niche of a ‘gothic’ designer and instead highlight his ability to find beauty in the grotesque (see here one of McQueen’s most famous quotes – “I think there is beauty in everything. What normal people perceive to be “ugly”, I can usually see something of beauty in it”.)

The highlight of the show came courtesy of a moulded plastic bustier – the transparent plastic revealed a sea of live worms trapped underneath. When teamed with a red pencil skirt complete with zip detailing and a structured grey jacket, McQueen succeeded in his aim; his aim for this collection appeared to be creating a commercially-viable collection whilst maintaining his macabre point of view. His references were less explicit than usual and also more poetic in a way – whilst he chose to run with the ‘vampire’ concept, it was more in the sense that he took the human body and made it both fetishistic and desirable. Nobody felt exploited, nothing felt too try-hard and, in general, the world fell in love once again with Lee McQueen.

No comments:

Post a Comment