There is no better metaphor for unpredictability, and the lack of control we have over our world, than the weather itself. This sounds instinctively familiar when we look back on the rollercoaster of a year and a half that was the pandemic. And, spring/summer 2022 is the first physical show for Alexander McQueen since it all started.
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In a giant bubble designed by architect Smiljan Radic that was built on the roof of Tobacco Docks Yellow Park in Wapping, East London, the sky was the star, and the show was at its mercy, whether rain or shine. Within this McQueen ecosphere, creative director Sarah Burton imagined the ‘storm chaser’—a woman who does not shy away from the uncertainty of the future, but delights in the thrill of the unknown.
In the storm chaser’s dress code, there is the wild side that vies with discipline. Sleek tuxedo jackets billow into inflated sleeves, structured suits are cut through with slits and long zippers, and a long coat that is sculptural in the front gives way to a voluminous pleated silk skirt in the back. Femininity is buttressed with toughness as feminine tulle meets fetishy leather.
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The models literally wear weather on their sleeves, like emotions. The intricately beaded dresses (and matching bags) simulate the dramatic gradation between cloud and sky, and the chaotic watercolour-like prints on dresses are created from photos of the changing skies shot from the rooftops of the house’s studio itself. Celebrating that perpetual potential for change, the skyscapes sometimes depicted airy white clouds, and sometimes menacing stormy skies. The message? If the only constant in our world is inconsistency, then we might as well become storm chasers.