Paris Fashion Week: Alexander McQueen misses his creative hold-up

Alexander McQueen showed Seán McGirr’s first collection. Maintaining a certain continuity with the gothic universe so dear to the founder, the new artistic director puts his own stamp and the shadow of a garage-owner father. However, after the genius of Lee Alexander and the unanimous recognition of his former right-hand man Sarah Burton, the fashion world’s verdict is clear: the test has yet to be transformed.

When Seán McGirr was appointed creative director of Alexander McQueen last October, he was – like Chemena Kamali’s debut at Chloé – unquestionably one of the most eagerly awaited designers at Paris Fashion Week.


The newcomer succeeds Sarah Burton – 26 years at the helm of creation – but the task is an arduous one, given that he is the first designer not to have known the late founder, recognized by many as nothing less than the greatest fashion designer of the century.

While the gothic universe of the 1990s and the working-class hero profile of Lee Alexander McQueen are clearly visible, the 35-year-old Irishman is putting his stamp on knitwear and the automotive world, offering a dose of ironic playfulness usually found in Moschino and Viktor & Rolf.


An impossible succession?

Interviewed by Fashion TV in 2006, founder Lee Alexander McQueen said of a possible passing of the torch: “If I ever leave my company, I’ll burn it down so that no one can work there.” He added: “This person would have to invent the concepts for my shows, which are so personal, how would that be possible? Unless she turns herself into a podium of non-existence”.

And yet, everything augured well for Seán McGirr, who declared his reverence for the work of the man who, more than a designer, took tailoring in fashion to an unprecedented level, as well as having digested numerous elements from the House’s archives, including The Birds – the founder’s fifth fashion show (Spring-Summer 1995).


However, in the opinion of Alexander McQueen’s earliest fans, there’s something wrong with this treatment of the gothic, to the point of creating an image that’s too smooth to be credible, and where some might even see a sign of the financialization of luxury and its interest in offering a show that’s “all things to all people” and therefore largely watered down.


© Alexander McQueen


For Steve Salter, Content & Brand Strategist, the main criticism is this neo Alexander McQueen’s disregard for the art of tailoring, “My biggest criticism of this first collection is the naivety of the execution. Although severe, I compare it to a graduation collection and have to question the studio team beyond its 35-year-old creative director.”


In this way, Seán McGirr gives the impression of missing out on this singular, oppressive universe halfway between the laborious world of Charles Dickens and the darkness of an Edgar Allan Poe. Morbid grotesqueness seems to be one of the few links of filiation. The revival of the skull motif seems to have been emptied of the symbolism of memento mori (awareness of the finitude of existence, ed. note) and reduced to a simple marketing argument designed to be “transgressive” with the younger generation.

Ode to native Ireland

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Featured Photo: © McQueen

Picture of Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin is a journalist specializing in luxury, HR, tech, retail, and editorial consulting. A graduate of EIML Paris, he has been working in the luxury industry for 9 years. Fond of fashion, Asia, history, and long format, this ex-Welcome To The Jungle and Time To Disrupt likes to analyze the news from a sociological and cultural angle.

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