August 15, 2010

The Complications of a Swan Song: Alexander McQueen Fall 2010

I’ve tried to avoid writing about Alexander McQueen’s Fall 2010 collection for a while now. I felt upon first seeing it that it would be best to let it sit with me before finding and voicing my thoughts. At the time, I couldn’t look at it as a collection, period, not long after his suicide.

It is now half a year later, and I don’t feel any differently. His death is something that I, like many people, still can’t believe. It’s simply not real to me; I can’t wrap my head around it, and I probably never will. So I have to wonder: is it possible to look at these clothes without considering the circumstances under which they were shown? I say that I waited because I wanted to see the collection as something that walks by itself. But I’m not sure that I can do so without seeing a dreary shadow following closely behind.

The fact is, this was the collection Alexander McQueen was in the process of creating before he killed himself. We would find meaning in anything that had been sent down the runway. After working on this post for an hour, with lots of backspacing and rethinking, and having only two complete paragraphs, I’m still not sure of the best way to evaluate these photos. So much is missing -- the setting he would have preferred, the looks he would have envisioned for the models, and even a number of garments, some deemed inappropriate to show as they were demon-themed. I guess the only thing to do is feel it out. This collection deserves more than to be simplified into an analysis that disregards the story around it, but I don't think I'm the person for that job.

This has been said before, but the collection did sum up Alexander McQueen’s many years of design perfectly. There was wit in the way the image of a feather wing shaped an arm, and emotion in the white half-wrinkled, half-pleated fabric that covered one back. Through beautiful prints, familiar images -- the kinds that come to mind when you think of old paintings in museums -- were shaped to his liking and given another dimension, something McQueen always did with colloquial beauty. The colors were royal -- blood red, white, black, gold, and silver, with green and purple making appearances only in the form of jagged jewels. Poetic insect-like draping and folds balanced out intricate beading and embroidery to create stories within fabrics. A statuesque woman in one dress weeps with a white crow over her shoulder and a hand to her chest.

As always, you look at it and just think about how amazing it is that a human made this.

And that’s about all I can say. I won’t go digging for meaning. It might just be impossible for me to separate the many layers that glide along the floor in the form of a gown from the many layers of the dreary shadow that follows.
Align Center



Enlarge to see the looks, though I recommend clicking here for high quality.

117 comments:

Ashley said...

Such a beautiful collection. Its still so strange to think he's gone.

http://fashionroadkill-halifax.blogspot.com

dear kate said...

great post, tavi. i think all the things you said are just about right. its probably best to not look too deep into things since there is never a good explanation for this sort of thing. this collection IS an expression of mr. mcqueen and his feelings. thats all we know and all we should care about. it is an AMAZING collection.
again, great post.
katie

meagan said...

this was a lovely post. it is hard contemplating someone's life's work after they've passed on - but i think you've done so in a respectful way. cheers.

wallflower said...

What an odd style.

Arabelle said...

i remember when you, elizabeth and i were in the taxi and we passed by the mcqueen store last fashion week. we all went quiet at the same time and stared, and it felt so, so private.

we lost someone we can never have back. no designer will replace what has been lost. no one. his work was so incredibly beautiful, and what's painful is that it showed so much promise to just CONTINUE being beautiful, and blossom --

we'll never see that happen now.

that is what hurts the most.

Raspberry Jam said...

i just love his last collection.

im still sad about his suicide
and cant believe that he did that.
he is actually one of my favorite designer. he inspired me a lot!

i seen a new collection by sara burton. i like it but
nobody cant be like him....
r.i.p McQueen


xoxo

Pashupati said...

When Yves-Saint-Laurent died I thought like I should felt this way, except for him he was out of fashion industry since a damn time and sort of already finished his "big things". Also, he didn't commited suicide. So I just felt like I lost a person I didn't know but admired, not a future œuvre d'art, so it was less of a pain. (yes, very egocentric thought)
Here, I feel that maybe it's sort of better he finished by killing himself, because it goes with the more of his life puzzle, so it's a beautiful story.
But it's still like he wrote something to publish and didn't have the time to finish it.

Sorry, I don't have a thing with words to express my emotions like people do here. (you and the persons in comments)

Vicky said...

Beautifully written, and it's such a gorgeous collection x

Badley said...

There is no words to fully describe how wonderful and awe-inspiring McQueen was. With that being said, this was a wonderful interpretation and summery of his collection. Your writing style and pose is incredible, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

badley.

Nedda Ebo said...

Seeing this collection makes me sad. Like you said, it just looks incomplete. Still beautiful like anything McQueen did, but you still get that feeling that something's missing...long live McQueen, bless his soul.

Mustart x

ólöf said...

it truly is amazing that a human could possible make something so magnificent. This never ceases to amaze me..beautiful collection..and I still can't quite wrap my head around him being gone.

Pashupati said...

http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/389/Dick-Weissman-Talkin-Bout-A-Revo-page01.html
I think some parts of this may interest you.

FASHION SNAG said...

This is a beautiful collection of his!

www.FashionSnag.com

E is for Eleanor said...

You've put this just perfectly, thank you.

I think this collection is so beautiful and intricate, a brilliant mind he was. x

fashion is my husband said...

the details are great!

sarah. said...

mcqueen's creativity, inspiration and vision will never be equalled. his unique approach to design is much missed
somehow-someday.blogspot.com
x

Christian G. H: said...

oh i love you tavi for loving Lee! :) I'm such a fan of McQ! :)
Hope Sarah Burton can continue to do his work...

Lindsey said...

Lovely way to sum up what I'm sure all of us are feeling. McQueen was such an inspiration to me. Seeing his collections a few years ago in Vogue is really what inspired me to pursue my designing dreams. When I heard the news, I was just in shock.

It almost hurts to see this last collection in all it's beauty. It really is fantastic, and the details are something you just don't see in many clothes these days.

Simona said...

These clothes are brimming with emotion, beauty, and thought... bringing tears to my eyes. Thanks for the post, Tavi!

Leslie said...

Wonderful post. I usually never comment on your writing, but I was absolutely flabbergasted by both your writing and the photos. Isn't it sad to say I haven't seen the collection until today? But it is gorgeous, and I did start to cry after staring at this for a very, very long time.

Thank you, Tavi.

Lee Alexander McQueen. Gone but not forgotten.

what is a boy to do said...

Love love love.

what is a boy to do said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lily said...

So achingly beautiful.

caro.lina. said...

I can't even begin to explain how I felt about this collection. It's perfection, is all I can say.

Pachi Sánchez said...

The jacket with golden feathers is quite magical!!
This collection is more than a good fashion design, is ART.
Also I miss Alexander.
Regards from Madrid.

Malicious Mallory said...

Everything you say is right on.
It's definitely a very royal collection.

firefly said...

I believe it, but yet don't, the same way as the man across from the street supposedly(don't know much yet) committed suicide. The collection is beautiful, elegant and unusual, but I keep thinking "what is missing?" though I don't know if it's because I know he died or not.

fireflyworks.blogspot.com

Jem said...

Tavi you summed up what I think everyone is feeling perfectly. It is so hard to properly respond to it, so sometimes you cannot look for all the meaning in it but thats okay, you can still feel that it is a great piece of work.

Melissa said...

I loved this final collection. It felt very funeral-y and sad -- I guess a lot of his collections felt that way, though. Just a shame he's gone.

Ruri and Kephsy said...

i feel so strange as well, as he was my favorite designer. i thought he was a great designer and his clothes are so exotic.
i agree, it scares me to think about it.
you ok after the storm?
--kepshy

Hal said...

the textures are so fantastic. mind-blowing clothes.

HALCOHOLIC.com

kimik0 said...

I still can't believe he's gone! D:
This collection is out of this world.

lol btw, your entry title reminded me of this song...

Swan Song by Epik High :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2OMFkCn9x0

Sarah Margeurite said...

It is heartbreaking to know there will never be anything of this caliber created again. The label will live on, and inspiration from the work he did in a life cut short will help guide the hands of future collections - but nothing will measure up. RIP McQueen.

Sincerely, Sarah Margeurite

Katja said...

he's my religion... got stomach ache just by thinking about that he's never going to take my breath away again. pfft...

Kali Venable said...

This post was swell it helped me somehow make since of what I am supposed to think about his suicide.


Thanks,

TheLevelHeadedChild.blogspot.com

kaorumonster said...

It looks like Queen Amidala meets The Divine Comedy by Dante. It really regal. I think it's beautiful.

YES said...

You wrote this beautifully and intricately. I appreciate the way you can address this collection and the truth of it's creative process in expressive whispers, in respect and in absolute reverence. I feel like weeping upon viewing these photos and cannot even fathom the genius that McQueen was.

Jehh said...

I could not agree with you more on all of the terms that you spoke of above. I emote similar emotions for a post that I have made for next year (on the anniversary of his death). the first thought that ran through my head was "are you shitting me? why the f-ck would he do that for?" I was in complete shock for couple of days...When I saw the photos of the collection you posted, my heart was broken into itty bitty tid bits because this was going to be my most favourite collection yet. the elements that he incorporated were just so genius and exact to how I wished society dressed. Imagine the swoon over his talent if he had not committed so an atrocious act of taking his own life.

mcqueen, forever you are my fashion god, rip.

p.s. one of my friends interned at the Worn Journal in Toronto, Ontario last year! :D

xxo
http://fashioncontagious.blogspot.com/

WONNNZ FASHION said...

Yes you are right.
It has no meaning to digging for meaning in his collection.
Just those wrinkles with shadow are beautiful.

Patricia said...

You've really captured what ALL of us are thinking, Tavi. Kudos to you.

Live Fashion said...

the attention to detail is amazing! a wonderful collection!

www.livelongfashion.blogspot.com

Emily said...

Oh, Tavi, what a beautiful post. Even with all that's been written about McQueen's final collection it's no surprise that it's you who managed to find the best way to articulate how I'm sure many of us feel about seeing it. I still can't look at the entire show in one sitting, but the work simply speaks for itself. McQueen will never be replaced, and he will forever be missed. Lovely commentary.

hla_s2 said...

I love this post Tavi. RIP McQueen


www.stylewithsarah.com

kasmslo said...

To me there is an archaic Byzantine quality to the collection. Like, say, Byzantine religious artwork. It's poetic to think of a mind contemplating the concept of heaven or divine fantasy in a conscious state of hell.
Anyhoo, taking McQueen out of the context: Final Fantasy meets Louis XIV. R.I.P. My main mighty man McQuinn.

kasmslo said...

And now that I'm officially over-evaluating this and thinking in the vein of art, I am dying to see the demon-themed pieces. I can sense some creepy witchy romanticism Goya vibes from the collection too. I think demonology juxtaposes so well with the sort of ostentatious, frivolous and heavenly elements of the pieces that were actually shown.

SLS said...

Wow, every time I look at his final show I'm reminded of how incredibly talented he was and feel so sad that we won't get to see how his work evolved.

Long live Mcqueen!

http://eselesart.blogspot.com/

Ruri and Kephsy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruri and Kephsy said...

gahh i love the red and gold dress. it makes me think of a duchess. i also agree with you tavi. you have such a strong heart and people should realize this. i was too scared to beleive it when AMcQ passed.
thanks for this!
-- kephsy

thwany said...

that gold feather jacket is especially beautiful

Nolita said...

Everything you say is so damn right, love the collection!

www.nolitavintage.com

Ruri and Kephsy said...

hey tavi again-
i am being bored here at 12:15 in the morning in the bay area, CA (actually where a model on fashiontoast.com lives) and i was just looking back on your blog. so you were 11 when you started? well i am now 13 and i just started my blog with my friend RURi (as you know) and i need to know some cool websites and people who are open to interveiws and have some ideas on fashion.
so just tell me on www.ruriandkephsy.blogspot.com
thanks tavi! -ivat!
- xx kephsy

amber said...

They're beautiful! And I know what you mean it's sad that he died.
Fashion-obbsesion.blogspot.com
Bye,
amber

Meera said...

That was a great post. It is something I can relate to because, out of all the Fall 2010 collections, this was the most breath-taking, the most amazing. The detail in each outfit is shockingly beautiful, but the clothes hold not only beauty, but also sadness.

StyleNonsense said...

Is It Weird That I Feel The Same Way? I Can't Actually Judge His Collections In The Same Way Because I Just Don't See His Voice In It.
Following Your Blog!
StyleNonsense.blogspot.com

C.Crochet said...

McQueen was a genius! Like a falling star, his passage on earth was too short! But him, He WILL NOT stop shining!
;D
C.Crochet (A man made in France! :o)

Insomnia said...

There always be a an empty place where he left. He took the magic with him.
The collection breathtaking, as always, but it only makes me feel sad and empty.
I'm holding my breath for the future actions, without him nothing will be the same again.

RIP

LaArmoire said...

Oh yes tavi you are right! The death of McQueen was something so personal to me, I just want to know WHY? But none gonna tell this to us we like a bloggers must to know that we lived only for his collections we were staying at home a waiting for his show when other ones were down town. His work is fabulous I say "IS" because he's work is here and every one will see it but now not at runway but in museum. This Fall 2010 show is made in base of his sketches by people who worked with him, but every designer in process of birth of collection makes a change , we don't know that a fabric of thous dresses is his chose or no!! and this collection is one big question with out a answer...

daisychain said...

I think this is the most exquiste collection ever made by a designer.
Like you, I cannot yet think properly about Alexander McQueen and I dont feel that his death is real.

Daisy
www.surmagique.blogspot.com

Izabella said...

This is very beautiful.
www.itsbellatime.blogspot.com

Miszelka said...

Beautiful, enchanting.

San said...

I wrote a post about the Sarah last collection; about the Mcqueen´s legacy under Burtons conception and stuff.... hope you take a look.

FashionLifeCoach said...

Stunning and fab collection. I just want to say: beam me back into the century of king and queens, Scotty.

grossomodo said...

very Balmain and Lacroix...

grossomodo said...

medieval and russian fairy tale...

d0ud0u said...

Même après la perte d'un immense artiste nous sentons toujours ce Néo classique futuriste +)

d0ud0u said...

Cela me fait beauocup a une collection chez dior par john galliano trés reine Elizabeth

sparklemariesparkle said...

Hello again, Tavi~

I feel like this post is something very personal.. you wrote very emotional and we can feel that writing about it means a lot to you.

I just wanted to say that I really like this collection. It's so beautiful! I know he is dead, but with this collection he really did take my breath away.
I'm interested in historical fashion very much, it's so beautiful, I really really really wish I could wear dresses like the ladys in 18th or 19th century... It's soooo pretty! But in this modern age nobody can walk around in those dresses. So I LOVE it when people know how to combine historical elements with modern fashion. It's one of the most fascinating things to me.
This collection is stunning and I admire him for creating something that beautiful.

Love, Marie

P.S. One more question. You wrote, layered outfits are a pain, because they keep falling apart. Well I know what you mean, but did you never think of using safety pins to keep the layers at their places? I'm always doing that, and it works really well! Maybe you could try it if you want to...
Sorry, it feels weird to write about this, your post was so sad and I'm talking about safety pins :(

Ari Abramczyk said...

"It might just be impossible for me to separate the many layers that glide along the floor in the form of a gown from the many layers of the dreary shadow that follows."

Fantastic writing, Tavi.

Jessi Lou said...

You did a beautiful job. Brought tears to my eyes.

I love your blog. You should be very proud of yourself. :)

Engreida said...

Very well written! So many people were of course so sad when he died. I was too, but I was also angry. I felt let down as a designer. I read, where I could, to find a motivation that made sense to me. Your posting made me read further. I'm wondering if Isabella Blow's suicide made him feel guilty...

My best, Jill http://engreidadesigns.blogspot.com

margaret said...

Tavi, For more runway looks that are hard to find and very inspiring go to www.runwaypassport.com... it's a site that highlights fashion weeks in different cities... ex: oslo, berlin, lisbon, charleston, and mozambique...! I think you may love this too! and a great photo archive...

Meagan said...

So elegant and royal! I can't believe someone had enough creativity to crate such gorgeous things. Looking at them makes me sad because it reminds me of how much work he put into it even though he was obviously suffering. Thats probably why this is such a wonderful collection.
You have a lovely blog. I like your picture of Sam, Bill and Neil on the side. F&G is a fantastic show.

Quiet Eyes said...

So sad. This collection...is amazing!

lilmissshortee said...

Absolutely beautiful collection, so wonderful and artistic. He was a genius.

C.Crochet said...

Re moi...
J'ai mieux regardé cette collection... Et j'ai vraiment envie de m'exprimer, mais en français, pour bien trouver tout mes mots! Xcuse me Tavi! =P
Bien... au premier coup d'oeil je me suis dit ; "Ouè c'est magnifique!" sans vraiment avoir de sentiments en me faisant la réflexion... En repassant sur ton blog, je prends le temps de regarder la collection sur le site pour une "meilleur qualité" d'image! Et là, je suis subjugué! Quel gout, quel talent... nous avons à faire à un génie! (Je n'en doutais absolument pas avant! ;D) Les lignes sont parfaites, le choix des couleurs lui aussi est parfait! Tous les styles se confondent! Effectivement certaines créations ont un petit quelque chose de médiéval, alors que d'autres sont extrêmement modernes! La tenue qui me plait le plus est sans conteste celle présente sur la 6ème (petite) image! Ce modèle semble tout droit sortir d'un okiya! Et les cuissardes rajoutent un charme monstre à la tenue! Encore une fois, c'est PARFAIT! McQueen nous a fait, nous fait et nous fera toujours voyager et partager ses sentiments et les démons qui l'habitaient! Si l'homme a disparu ce n'est pas le cas de son esprit qui restera à tout jamais dans la culture de la mode!

C.Crochet (a man made in France)

brightlightsbigcity said...

great post tavi. i completely agree, his collections definitely possess an otherworldly quality that makes it so hard to believe that one human has such a vision.... and then that we've lost this one human? incredible...

http://watermelonfeet.blogspot.com

Estelle said...

amazing post, Tavi!

cancercowboy said...

you found adequate words.

Lucy said...

I agree with you tavi. I haven't looked at his collection since he passed. He was a true fashion legend and it was depressing to see him go.

www.lucyplease.blogspot.com

Nuitt said...

One word. Magical.

Nicole said...

I agree. The collection itself is beautiful. But not complete. It was just empty.

Prutha said...

the collar detail is sooo cool..makes me sad everytime i think about him though

http://donotshoeme.blogspot.com/

Laura said...

First of all, I don't follow fashion or no much about it, so I hope I'm not completely making a complete fool of myself by saying this! But I think this collection is so beautiful, and I'm kind of in awe of the amount of detail and handwork in each piece. And I like what you said about the colors... how they were royal looking. The first thing I thought when I saw this collection was that they were pieces made hundreds of years ago for regal women. It's incredible to me that they were made for 2010. I would have never seen this collection if you hadn't blogged about it Tavi, so thank you!

kristy eléna said...

i think this is my favorite post of yours. ever. you handled the subject matter very well. alexander mcqueen is one of my favorite designers. and i agree that it's difficult to view this collection without his suicide lurking in the back of your mind. but your assessments are thoughtful and well-written. the time you spent on this post was worth it.

Marcia said...

I know how you feel. The last collection by McQueen is truly the work of a master. Hope he's happy up there, dressing the angels with Chanel and Dior and all those other great couturiers......

Emily said...

beautiful fabrics.. the whole collection is great!

www.lovelywanderlust.com

J.S. said...

who doesn't love a little mcqueen!

jen
http://blankwhiteframes.blogspot.com

Faith said...

Look number two from the collection features The Garden Of Earthly Delights by Bosch; my favorite painting. The premise of that work of art is so haunting that I have a hard time looking at it the same way anymore after seeing it on a piece of McQueen's final collection. The fashion world will never get back what they lost, but can certainly celebrate all the contributions he made during his career.

zoomslow said...

Thanks for your sensitive and well observed words on this collection, Tavi. I really like the feather back and collar detail you've included - it takes fashion to another place. And I also like the top row far right look - the proportions and draping are, for me, just right.

c-nice said...

our new fall bags are in check them out!!! plz and thanks!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vku4nlOACFc

АНТОН said...

МакКуин - гений!!!!!! Жаль, что умер((((

♥ T said...

His work is so amazing. I totally agree with your point of view.

http://whatshernameslittlesecrets.blogspot.com/

Iida-Sofia said...

With you reminding me about Alexander's phenomenial work as a designer, an actual Couture God, you made me miss him once more :( my heart stops beating for McQueen :(

Jenn said...

I wish they'd released the other items, and I wonder if they were related, stylistically, to the orientalist vibe of the rest of the collection.

walrus said...

oh wow... i have a bad taste in my mouth. i actually really,really liek these...I guess because of the 'demonic'theme.
going to the phychologist now...

Sunfunnels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Forest City Fashionista said...

You are waaaay too insightful for your years. Beautiful, beautiful clothes with such nobility and extravagant detail.

pilcuis said...

what a shame that he isn't alive anymore!!

http://www.ohmydior.org/

Zita said...

g.o.r.g.e.u.s.e.<3....still depressed from his departure:(...

thefashiondiary-zita.blogspot.com

-zitaa

Lara Maria said...

beautiful collection

Bridget said...

This is on another level of craftsmanship. Long live McQueen.

derek nguyen said...

It's a shame that such a genius has left. . . He really made fashion more exciting and he allowed it to evolve.
He will forever be remembered!

Laura said...

Wow, this defines "wearable art" to me. It's like the wearable Louvre. I think his creative genius and personal emotional state were somewhat disconnected. It's a shame that the former couldn't sustain the latter, and vice versa.

cris.gomez said...

He was a genious

Vanessa F. said...

So dramatic!! I love it!

alan.dellanoce said...

It's a good think that you waited so long to write about this collection.
In fact this collection is not just a matter of clothes:it's a deep reflection that Alexander McQueen made on the potentialities of fashion in the contemporary world.

I think that A McQ wanted to say that we have to stop looking at XIX century as the only source of inspiration.
We have to find a new way to express creativity and to emphasize craftmanship if we want to build a solid idea of beauty and to make the haute couture world survive in the future decades.
This collection is a masterpiece of craftmanship with referencies taken from the Middle Ages.
Preciuos hand made details on wearable clothes are a new classic that can lead haute couture out of the loss of consciousness of the 2000s

alan.dellanoce said...

http://magicspyro.tumblr.com/

pinkspilledpaint said...

Beautiful post. I wrote about McQueen around that time, too. http://pinkspilledpaint.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/the-final-collection-of-a-genius/ ... Maybe it was just something in the air that made us think of him at the same time.

So sad. ... So sad.

TerraSelisa said...

It's a beautiful collection, like a dream! And Tavi, where did you found these close-ups?
xx.

lescheveuxblondes.blogspot.com

Laura Sherriffs said...

This post made me cry.
Its a beautiful collection and its still hard to believe he is gone

xoxo

http://fight-fires-in-your-best-clothes.blogspot.com/

Carlos Caballero said...

alexander mcQueen, The Fashion God!

Cate said...

I know I'm late to the discussion here, but I just went over to the A McQ site and looked at this incredible collection in high res. And it came to me in a flash what this collection is. It is vestments for the priestesses (male priests have been discovered to be dangerous and untrustworthy) for a new religion replacing Catholicism, now that Catholicism has been shown to be corrupt, frightening and exploitative. This is a vision of bringing forward the beauty of Catholicism's evocative pomp and arcane grandeur, while leaving behind its patriarchal power-abusing perverse present. I say bravo!

Reena said...

You are right about the shadow casting over the beautiful pieces. May he rest in peace.

a l e x i s perlman said...

Really great insight to McQueen, he was and remains my favorite designer

check out

al3xisperlman.blogspot.com

Anna said...

I love that!

www.fashionessence-anna.blogspot.com

Aesha said...

This dress are so beautiful !!!! You know, i'm French and i'm sorry for my pitiful english :/ Please can you visit my blog ? I'm a fan of you, I know it's ridiculous but you're too talented and so nice !!I am not as you, it is just a small blog ... But please please pleeeeaaase ♥ (:
xxx
(http://aesha-piix.blogspot.com/)

Tibz. said...

Hello,
I didn't really understand the fashion industry or your work until I read this. I have more insight now. Also, you write beautifully.

Thanks :)