Alexander McQueen and Smiljan Radic erect bubble on London skyline
‘I am interested in immersing myself in the environment in which we live and work, in London, and in the elements as we experience them each day,’ says creative director Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen’s homecoming S/S 2022 womenswear show
Londoners who cast their eyes across the Wapping skyline yesterday lunchtime, would have been struck by a transparent dome perched atop a ten-storey car park in Tobacco Dock; a bulbous cupola resembling a greenhouse or a biohazard bubble.
The structure was in fact the sky-high setting of the Alexander McQueen S/S 2022 show, a nature-celebrating creation designed by the brand’s regular collaborator Smiljan Radic, the Chilean architect behind the organic forms of the label’s Old Bond Street London flagship, and whose shell-like 2014 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion was inspired by ancient Japanese temples and the concept of a fake ruin.
Alexander McQueen S/S 2022: step into Smiljan Radic’s sky-high show set
Radic’s bulging bubble, lined with concentric circles of chairs, reflected the influence that the London metropolis played in Burton’s vision for the Alexander McQueen S/S 2022 collection. While the brand’s S/S 2021 womenswear offering looked to mudlarking in the Thames, here Burton cast her eyes upwards to the sky of the brand’s home city. ‘We moved from water... to the sky and the ever-changing, all-encompassing magnificence that represents,’ she explained, referencing the magnificent views the rooftop of the label’s studio offers, spanning from Saint Paul’s Cathedral to the London Eye. This led Burton to consider the concept of storm chasing, as she watched the weather formations above the brand’s headquarters, clusters of clouds accumulating, the changing of the skies from serene to sinister.
In the ethereal Alexander McQueen S/S 2022 offering, strapless dresses plumed like soft clouds around the body, abstract cloud prints swathed full skirts, fringed sequins cascaded like falling water, and shimmering crystal embellishments resembled light-illuminated rain.
Restriction and freedom, the city and the natural world, interior and exterior existence, antithetical elements amassed within Radic’s bubble-like show set, simultaneously shutting off and exposing its guests to the outside world, encouraging them to reach out and touch the crisp city skyline. ‘Storm chasing is not only about the beauty of the views but also a sense of mystery and excitement – about embracing the fact that we can’t ever be sure of what might happen next,’ Burton explained. ‘To give up control and be directly in touch with the unpredictable is to be part of nature, to see and feel it at its most intense – to be at one with a world that is bigger and more powerful than we are.’ §