I know I keep banging on about re-acclimatising back to London after travelling for so long. It's starting to sound like a broken record even as the words leave my mouth whenever I'm chatting to someone about what I've been up to the last few months. Still, I can't quite express how satisfying it is to get back to doing all of my favourite things in London, pottering about at snail's pace and not wondering whether there's a flight to catch within a day or so.
In particular, I'm looking forward to a summer of rooting around for treasure. There's a feast of car boot sales, charity shops and vintage stores to go digging through because frankly I'm missing the challenge and the thrill of finding something in person and yipping up and down, much to the bemusement of sellers and shop keepers. In the meantime, places like Liberty's Dress Box Vintage department and Strut on Broadway Market are making it rather easy for me to feel somewhat gratified. Both stores sent two pieces of vintage Alexander McQueen my way, which gives me an excuse to trawl through the ever useful The Fashion Spot McQueen threads.
The first piece found at Liberty's Dress Box Vintage section, was an easily identifiable skirt from McQueen's S/S 2000 collection "Eye", which by my recollection wasn't exactly well-received but it showed some cultural and religious probing on McQueen's part with its references to patriarchy in Islamic society. This was McQueen's first show in New York, and the show went on despite Hurricane Floyd hitting New York on the night, which to me reads as a strange premonition for the cultural anxiety over Islam-related terror groups that would ensue after 9/11. The skirt is almost belt-like with its curved side-split which recalls Islamic art motifs. The sales assistant at Liberty assured me that it would look great on because on the hanger it did look like a lost bit of curtain fabric. I don't normally fall for that old chestnut but she proved me wrong as on, it was the curve of the split that really showcased McQueen's hand for precise pattern cutting, even on a belt-like throwaway skirt.
(Worn with vintage Romanian embroidered blouse, Miu Miu flares, Balenciaga shoes)
The second piece, which I bought at Strut at Broadway Market yesterday when they were having a Super Saturday Sale, was a tougher cookie to crack. The label reads pre-fall 2005 but sadly there aren't any pictures online that I can find of the pre-fall collection. This was a time when pre-collections weren't the third and fourth proper seasonal fashion weeks they've become now. The jacket at first glance doesn't even read McQueen to me until you look at the inklings from the preceeding S/S 2005 collection. Entitled "It's Only a Game", McQueen reworked many of his greatest hits but with a lighter touch and presented this magnificent array as a chess board. The girlish Edwardian theme that is prevalent in the collection is the connecting strand to this checked jacket with its nipped-in waist, pinked edged embellishment and pleated swirls. It's difficult to fully assume that of course without seeing the whole pre-fall collection but it's also odd that the jacket seems even more out of place when compared to the A/W 2005-6 collection "The Man Who Knew Too Much", with its odes to Hitchcock Heroines. It's in the lining of the jacket and the construction of the front panels of the jacket that you can read McQueen's design traits even if the pattern and print say otherwise. I'm not one to nit pick though. I'll take this annonymous McQueen specimen over fruitless shopping anyday.