When the news hit my inbox that Alexander McQueen was showing at London Fashion Week this February, I squealed with joy.
My colleagues might have rolled their eyes at my over-excitable nature, but for Alexander McQueen to return to London from Paris, where the label has shown since 2002, is monumental news not only for fashion fanatics like me but the industry as a whole.
Sunday's show reiterated London’s slot as an unmissable date on the international fashion merry-go-round. Including one-off events from major brands on the schedule keeps global names (like Anna Wintour) attending LFW – and therefore being present to see the younger cooler labels that our city is so brilliant at nurturing, at the same time.
Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council told Stylist: “Hosting the show in London, will no doubt further inspire more British fashion entrepreneurs, creatives and designers to follow in Lee and now Sarah Burton’s footsteps.”
McQueen’s design studio is based in Clerkenwell, but the label moved their show to Paris in 2002, when they joined the Gucci group, and have shown there ever since. Paris is a serious fashion city and, at the time, LFW was a less polished event. London was full of talent, promise and grit but as the home of couture and a city that no fashion editor would dream of missing, Paris was deemed a more appropriate home for the label.
Designed by Burton since McQueen’s death in February 2010, McQueen encapsulates all that is great about British fashion and constantly references our heritage and history to heartbreakingly dramatic effect. Most recently for Spring 2016, the intricate silk fabrics woven by the French Huguenot refugees, who settled in Spitalfields in the 17th century, proved inspiational.
Rush agrees, “London is such a large part of the McQueen identity, it is an exciting brand whose creative DNA has made it a trailblazer for so many British fashion businesses.”
While I’ve attended McQueen’s Paris Fashion Week shows, seeing the brand at home in London was a goose-bump inducing moment for me. I’m not often jealous of my husband but the fact he saw a McQueen show in London, while McQueen was alive, is the most contentious issue in our relationship.
The whole fashion world waited with bated breath to see the label return to London - and we were not disappointed.
Floor-skimming tulle embellished with delicate beading and mesmerising crystalline beads shone out of the dark night. A multi-coloured garden of Eden (complete with butterflies and birds of paradise) was beaded onto a black gown while a golden sequin unicorn galloped up one side of a sinuous sheer black column dress. There were razor sharp tailored jackets (which the label is renowned for) and a selection of exquisite painted leather pieces that merged London's street spirit and a painterly sensibility.
I wanted to wear it all immediately and transport myself to place of fantasy the collection hinted at... It might have been a one-night only treat but I can now say I've been part of the dream.