Maybe it's all this talk of gemstones, beads and luxury that I'm hearing at the IHT LINK Jewellery Summit, here in Vienna, where I'm at right now (I was here to give my bum of a talk about social media to a crowd of 300+ blank faces – yay me!). Maybe it's all the opulence of Palais Liechtenstein where we were last night for the LINK Summit gala and was surrounded by a heady mix of Swarovski jewellery, Rubens paintings and 18th century carriages. Maybe it's just Vienna itself, in that wherever you look you get beauty and proportion of the highest order in the architecture. For whatever reason, I decided to revisit these mind blowingdetails of the A/W 13-4 collection taken at the Alexander McQueen showroom in Paris back in March.
Sarah Burton could well have took it easy, made a simple collection and devoted more time to her newborn twins. Instead she orchestrated the creation of a ten piece collection that warrants every bit of hyperbolic praise it has garnered. "Go lavish or go home" was what I was thinking when I was in the showroom taking every single embroidered pearl in the collection. Only one of the ten ensembles will actually go into production. The point was therefore…? Aside from the fact that Alexander McQueen has a wide-ranging sales collections filtered from this ten piece extravaganza, you kind of peversely hoped that there was no concrete or practical point really. That this was a pure showcase of the very height of what the ateliers of McQueen can achieve. That labouring two weeks on each ensemble was a holistic act of devotion to craftsmenship, intricate detailing and the very notion of adornment itself – something which more and more designers are resisting in favour of ease, simplicity and perceived minimalism. Even the supposed Catholic references – there were five pairs of outfits entitled Communion, nuns, cardinals, popes, and angels – was really only surface deep. I read no overt subversive comment on the Catholic church and god knows (excuse the reference) there's enough to get your teeth into to really let rip and get angry at in that religious context. Instead it's the associations of pomp, pageantry and display in Catholicism that really got an outing here. It's surface for surface's sake and that's a glorious thing to be in the presence of. All you can do is… exclaim, exult and then finally exhale.