Alexander McQueen comes home to London with first ever McQ show

Sarah Burton's theatrical collection elevates diffusion label previously associated with street style to high fashion

A carpet of brown autumn leaves, a hut in the middle of the forest with blaring techno music and a supermodel in an ivory ballgown giving out drinks. It could mean only one thing: the house of McQueen had come home to London fashion week.

"This was about a love of McQueen and everything we do" said designer Sarah Burton backstage after the McQ show. It was the first ever time McQ – the secondary line from the Alexander McQueen label – had ever staged a catwalk show and the brand had chosen home turf for its debut. "It feels great to be here" she added.

This show was about the repositioning of the McQ brand. Previously the diffusion label was best known for street fashion – tricksy denim, tartan trousers and T-shirts. But last night's show intentionally took the label to a more elevated level – the look was stricter with a strong cohesive message. Less street fashion, more high end catwalk.

Military coats in forest green with nipped in waists and shiny belts were worn with thigh high laced boots. Coats in Black Watch tartan flared out from the hips and black velvet military coats were cinched at the waist over rainbow tulle and appliqued flowers. If there was a regal feel to the look it was that of a mounted palace guard rather than a fairytale princess.

An uncompromising hair style – a top knot so large it resembled a loaf of soda bread – finished off the silhouette. Naturally for a world class house like McQueen, there was strong commercial reasoning behind this rebranding. The label is set to open a flagship store in London in late spring.

The collection was unmistakably McQueen. It riffed on themes which are closely associated with the brand – from sharp tailoring to ballgowns to kilts and nipped in waists. The fashion industry often uses the rather fanciful term "house codes" to describe showing off what a label is best known for, and last night's collection made reference to one of McQueen's most famous attributes: the brand's showmanship.

As the show finished, the last model pulled a rope up from underneath the fallen leaves and found her way back to a hut in the middle of a spooky woodland scene. Guests were asked to leave through the forest as the model handed out drinks from inside the techno-blaring hut. "It couldn't be a show without being a show here," explained Burton backstage.


Imogen Fox

The GuardianTramp

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