Long Nguyen is the co-founder and style director of Flaunt.
Art was omnipresent at the Paris collections this season; most notably, the spectacular and witty gallery installations at Chanel on Tuesday morning. But the Mondrian-inspired black, white, and red sand floor at the Alexander McQueen show that evening was a sort of ode, too. The early twentieth century painter’s work was reflected in the graphic shapes and stark colors of the collection, whether it was a checkered bra-knit top and flared skirt trimmed with pleats, or a white box-pleated dress with black beading.
In her first return to a full runway show since her maternity leave last season, designer Sarah Burton took the house in a distinctly new direction. She adopted the modern art approach of applying more primitive shapes and clean lines, moving away from the usual and expected show pieces for which the brand is known. Even the show’s evening numbers were kept minimal by McQueen standards, like the multicolor-stripe strapless gown with black ostrich feathers at the hip.
The collection felt fresh with its simpler shapes. Simpler in the language of McQueen meant an abandonment of the more armor-like costumes of the past. The steel and brass sculpture headdresses worn by all the models, as well as the metal necklaces and bracelets, added to this sense of restraint. The leggings protruding out from under the pleated skirts gave the looks a sporty feel.
Rarely does one see day looks on the McQueen runway. But this week, there were plenty, including a great black-and-white checkered boxy coat belted at the waist, and an elbow-sleeve skirt-suit. A checkered bra top and knee length skirt reminded me of an Alaïa look, whose exhibition this week in the renovated Palais Galliera was one of the season’s highlights.
The house of McQueen’s trademark couture workmanship could be seen throughout the show in the intricate and subtle details. A high-collar leather jacket had rows of gold zippers on the sleeves, and a red-leather corset was decorated with zippers and worn with a laser-perforated leather skirt.