This is as good as it gets. London, it’s from the summer of 2016, one secretive photoshoot, with no press or people present. Only a stylist and a photographer. And thus the reason we would keep this masterpiece from you until now the pictures having become available only as of recently on PGS radar. Thus this Alexander McQueen ‘Swinging London’ collection was never presented on the runway, nor in any other form of presentation with only a select few magazines given copies. These photos are all you can see and all you can get.
It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll, and I Like It – because this grand collection is as Imperial British as you will ever see. For the style spells the Rolling Stones, when they were still under the magic spell of sitar-hero (no, not guitar hero) Brian Jones in the late sixties, and it spells the Beatles at the time of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band when the band by 1966 had grown weary of live performance and had moved into the studio. A style which has no shame of old-empire patterns featuring hummingbirds and leopards – or sunflowers – in paisley psychedelic or in embroidered gold.
Thus what is unusual here is that we have a magic photoshoot by a photographer (Julia Hetta) and the work of a stylist (Alister Mackie), who, moving into the studio with the assignment to work on an old Empire collection for Alexander McQueen, have created this collection only for the camera – having grown weary of live performances perhaps.
Faded, jaded Persian or Kashmir carpets as a backdrop – this old glamour look-book is so very British, so brutally imperial, that we could scant imagine Alistair Crowley smoking an opium pipe while trekking on a donkey in the Himalayas, or Rudyard Kipling sipping tea in his favorite lodge down in Mumbai. Here we find the vivid stuff of pipedreams, in the crimson and carmine colors of the gardens of Shalimar, and in full decorated regalia, from post-modern steampunk jewelry, to stiff-upper-lip military braids and broaches, to embroideries fit for forgotten princelings in Kashmir who just love silly frock coats in sharp cuts because it makes them look, well, aye, so very, very British.
Babylon at its best.
For this hardcore rocky British imperial romanticism is made of the fine things and accessories which would have made Lord Byron proud, Byronic being perhaps the one apt adjective that seems to fit the Alexander McQueen SS17 collection called ‘Swinging London’ with one single word. Or as people would say of Byron – mad, bad, and dangerous to know …
Alexander McQueen will be back on the runway in the fall of 2017.
Words by Sandro and photos by Alexander McQueen via GPS Radar.