Alexander McQueen Spring 2022 Menswear Collection

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The poet, artist, and visionary William Blake once described peace as “the human dress.” In this menswear collection the designer Sarah Burton applied Blake’s visual imagery to serve that written imagery by incorporating it into items of menswear. These items included one actual dress, conventionally “womenswear” but here presented as “menswear.” Its top was rib-framed, racerback-shaped, and fashioned of a beautifully-embroidered Blake reproduction, and its asymmetric skirt was built from ripped strips of organza, tulle, and chiffon in graduating fades of blue.

The image reproduced here and across several other collection pieces was Blake’s illustration of Canto 29 of Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, which Burton and her team consulted in collaboration with the Tate. As that link relates, the Canto describes and illustration depicts Dante’s meeting in purgatory with his long dead beloved, Beatrice, who is being drawn by a Griffin. In a way you could suggest this dress, too, was a depiction of a type of middle ground, between and beyond gender, in which the masculine and feminine were united as a “human dress.”

The Canto 29 image was also jacquarded onto a topcoat and a jacket, intarsia’d into a sweater, and printed on a wonderful ruffled artist’s shirt meets art-collector’s blouse with matching pant—Burton’s Dante eye was obviously drawn to both the Griffin and Beatrice. Another Blakean image, a frontispiece bearing the name Alexander McQueen and featuring a pensive skeleton, was embroidered onto a vest and printed onto a smock-like cotton button-up shirt.

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Away from Blake a ruffled jacket was another exploration of the space between conventionally gendered archetypes in dress code. Zippers curled around arms or acted as darting as another functionally decorative brushstroke designed to pique your perception of release and restraint. There was an underlying doubleness theme explored in an ingeniously double lapeled tailored jacket and a double-fronted leather trench. The men’s jewelry was also beautiful, and there was a handbag on offer that—a bit like that dress, one imagines—was simply a sized up edition of its womenswear equivalent. Image and imagination were interwoven here in this fine Blake-flavored collection of human dress by Sarah Burton and her team.

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