Alexander McQueen: no sign of Kering CEO at a stellar collection from Sarah Burton
The first question everyone asked when sitting down to the latest Alexander McQueen menswear runway show on Friday evening in Paris, was where was the patron? Where was François-Henri Pinault, whose family-controlled luxury conglomerate Kering owns Alexander McQueen? Since he was not sitting in his usual place in the front-row.
A legitimate question, since Kering has been pulling out of UK labels faster than banks are bailing out of London before Brexit.
Just 24 hours before, Kering announced it was selling back its stake in another British brand, Christopher Kane, to the designer. That came just two months after Kering revealed it was also unloading its 50% stake in another UK label, Stella McCartney.
Officially, Pinault was being a loyal son, attending the opening of an important art exhibition organized by his hard-charging father François Pinault in their hometown of Rennes. Papa Pinault is, after all, Europe’s greatest living collector of contemporary art. While a spokesperson for McQueen insisted that Kering “is fully committed to the house. Matter of fact, they plan to really up their investment in our growth.”
Turns out Pinault missed a stellar collection by the house’s creative director Sarah Burton, inspired by the great bohemian artists of Swinging London – photographer and chronicler John Deakin and the great Anglo-Irish painter Francis Bacon.
Bacon’s bold, dramatic and photographically inspired paintings, almost literally appeared on the catwalk with one model in just pants and boots, his torso finished in the painter’s blurred and brash forms.
Though the heart of the matter was the brilliant tailoring – marvelous pinstripe/chalk stripe suits: the cigarette pant and waistcoats in pin; the jacket in chalk.
A whole series of magazine-cover looks from an electric blue, and surgically cut, leather trench coat with matching pants to a series of two-tone belted coats, beige or red below the waist, jet black above. The silhouette was lean, mean and faintly menacing – all the way to the great hand-painted perfectos.
It climaxed with an awesome silver gunmetal embroidered narrow gent’s suit and topcoat that were quite simply flawless.
Worn by a cast that clearly loved the clothes as they marched rapidly around Burton’s preferred Paris show location, the Orangerie of the Luxembourg Gardens, before barely 300 guests.
“The artist vulnerable but powerful,” explained Burton in her program, before taking her bow, without, however, the owner to join in the massive applause.
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