Alexander McQueen’s menswear show is a thing of savage beauty

Military-style collection takes centre stage in London the same year that McQueen gets a retrospective at the V&A

Alexander McQueen is always going to get top billing at a London fashion event – particularly in a year when the brand is celebrated with Savage Beauty, an exhibition of the designer’s work at the V&A from April.

This collection, shown on Sunday at the capital’s menswear fashion showcase and designed by Sarah Burton, who has been creative director since McQueen’s death in 2011, was based on uniforms – military and otherwise. The first outfits had a punky feel: pinstripe suits with bold slogans – “honour”, “valour” and “truth” – covering the fronts of jackets. They were worn with studded brogues.

These were followed by pieces with more explicit military influence: frock coats with brocade crosses like the design of the Scottish flag, khaki jackets with saddle-bag pockets, and jumpers with a poppy print. It was all brought together with Burton’s talent for mixing tradition, subversion and slick tailoring.

“We wanted it to feel very British,” she said. “We always start with how men dress, particularly in this country.” All the clothes here were Savile Row quality – immaculately made, down to the final stitch.

Moschino, also on show on Sunday, under Jeremy Scott, isn’t about the details. It is the kind of fashion that doesn’t understand the meaning of OTT. This show of men’s and womenswear pulled out all the stops. With an alpine theme, the set featured forest pines and snow falling on supermodels including Jourdan Dunn and Sam Rollinson. The clothes were high octane – full-length fur coats, moon boots and silver sequined puffa jackets.

With lots of flesh on show, this was winter for those who don’t feel the cold. Scott summed the mood up in a typically effusive manner: “Healthy, sexy, masculine. They’re having fun in a forest and then going to a rave.”

JW Anderson’s collection was less about party time. It was a look at the everyday through the decades. The 30-year-old designer, widely regarded as a bright spark of London fashion, has advocated blouses and strapless tops for men in earlier collections.

Models walked on a surface made of purple flecks of recycled tyres, wearing loose-cut, high-waisted flares, leather trench coats, velvet suits and knitted cardigans with oversized buttons. While the effect had Anderson’s signature androgynous look, and a retro feel, bi-coloured sweaters, cropped shearling jackets and chunky scarves showed him moving gently towards more wearable pieces.

The inspiration has also come down to earth. If in the past Anderson has made esoteric references, including to J-cloths and stationery, his backstage explanation was strikingly simple this time. “It was a mix of decades,” said the designer “from the 50s to the 80s, in middle England, mixing references up until they don’t matter any more. It’s just about the look.” Making something new out of the old is a fashion perennial, but Anderson’s spin made it feel fresh once again.

London Collections: men continues on Monday, the final day. Young talent Craig Green and Burberry are the highlights. But both could be overshadowed by a one-off womenswear show in the normally men-only event. John Galliano’s couture collection for Maison Martin Margiela will be presented in the afternoon. It is his first outing for the brand and a return to the catwalk since his sacking from Christian Dior in 2011, so the show is much anticipated.


Lauren Cochrane

The GuardianTramp

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