Alexander McQueen Spring Summer 2006 'Neptune' Review






This week my Savage Beauty book arrived in the post. As you can imagine I was very excited to tear it open and gawk at all the pictures. It's an amazing book that any avid lover of fashion and art should have. My initial thoughts were that there wasn't enough information on each piece but rather than have a fashion historian critique the clothes they speak for themself. I haven't scoured the book thoroughly but I think they tried to have at least one piece from every collection but I could be wrong. Initially I thought there was nothing from the spring 2006 'Neptune' collection but there were two beautifully tailored black jackets.

And it was Neptune that got me to writing this post. After I'd flicked through the book and marveled at McQueen's genius I started to wonder what his worst collections were. Like any artist's body of work, some collections are burned into our psyche forever whilst others get lost in the mix. But did he have any? And should I be using the word 'worst' in the same sentence as McQueen?

I decided to hunt the web for some reviews and they were mixed...

For two seasons now Mr. McQueen has produced collections that are manifestly commercial - again, causing insiders to complain that the British bad boy has become lazy. This season his clothes have a hard, clean look redolent of the 80's.

"I've done Victorian, I've done romantic," he said. "I wanted to bring sexy back. It's what is missing right now. And Alaïa was sexy for me. It was classy sex." He added, "I have so much respect for him, and I don't even think he will mind." Mr. McQueen is also someone who can get below the fashion surface. Despite the rightness of the minimalist silhouette this collection was all about surface. It grasped the notion of sexiness technically but not with feeling or belief.-Cathy Horyn of the New York Times

Is this the fashion moment for warrior queens in curvy tailoring as sharp as a compass point; or for Grecian tunics cinched with leather harnesses? Alexander McQueen thinks so. He carried his show of Glamazon models by force of energy. But turn the pounding music off and what was there? An image that Azzdedine Alaïa created in the 1980s when the power woman look was a challenge to spacey flower children and a genuine reflection of burgeoning feminism.
The collection, played out in black and white with touches of silver and gold, included taut tailoring with tiny, fluting skirts, gilded chains filling in a scoop front or a goddess gown suspended from a silver harness. But at a moment when women are reasserting their right to look simply beautiful, McQueen's premise went against the movement toward fashion grace.-Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune

Alexander McQueen has changed. The commanding impresario who once took delight in scaring and astonishing his audience with stadium-filling shows and designing at the brink of scandal has—if we're to judge by the past two seasons—joined the regular ranks of ready-to-wear designers who line up their models like soldiers and march 'em on out with the collection.
For night, the part of the show McQueen said was inspired by Greek goddesses, things took a turn for the disappointing—tiny pleated silver lamé dresses, white crystal-beaded gowns and pieces made in bandage wrappings of white or gold elastic. The slot formerly occupied by his showstopping extravaganzas is now serviced by metalwork body costumes with all the finesse of something left over from an eighties sci-fi TV series. Gone, even, are the staggeringly made, couture-grade fantasy gowns that have brought so many brides banging on his door. Though some of his moves are clearly being made in an effort to sell—no criticism in itself—this show, from a designer whose capabilities have won such respect, was a letdown.-Sarah Mower of

What made Neptune such an anomaly in McQueen's career was it's straight-forwardness both in the clothes and the presentation. 99% of the clothes were wearable. Like, off the rack and straight on your back wearable. No gowns and no real show-stoppers except for a white silk cape embroidered with a phoenix on the back. According to McQueen he wanted to bring sexy back (his words, not mine). I think a lot of his 90's collections featured sex but it was raw, aggressive, nails down your back sexy. Neptune to me was like Hollywood sex, like Versace and in that respect it felt hollow. I completely missed the Alaia references which I feel so stupid about now because they're so painfully obvious. The short skirts, the body-con bandage dresses.

The commerciality of the collection was quite shocking too. He showed everything you would expect from a standard runway show. Daywear, easy to wear separates, handbags, even swimwear. And no runway theatrics. No dress-painting robots, no snow-covered tundras or merry-go-rounds. I wonder what factored into this decision? Was it a financial decision? A push from Gucci Group execs to get some cash injected into the brand? I doubt it. Perhaps it was a psychological break? Season after season people had an expectation that a McQueen show was going to be an extravaganza. And for many seasons he delivered. The Man Who Knew Too Much preceded Neptune and that too felt like a bit of an artistic breather. Instead of dark romanticism he opted for sexy Greek goddesses, not exactly a thoughtful or mind-bending subject.
After looking at this collection several times now I do like it. I don't love it but there's some beautiful pieces and it should also be noted that there's an immense amount of detail in the pieces that is easy to miss. The beading and embroidery is flawless. My favourites were: The all-black jacket/skirt/tights combo worn by Emina Cunmulaj (which p.s. what happened to her? She's so beautiful), the black cape/dress with gold chain belt on Gemma Ward, an immaculately tailored jacket worn with leather shorts and a boxing-style belt, the long white cape-dress.
And the worst? I can't use that word. Call me a wimp, a pussy. Call me biased but McQueen was a genius and I love and respect his work so I'm going to say his most disappointing looks. What appears to be a white silk crepe wrap shirt with obi-style sash was just boring. The same shirt appeared again in black but this time with silver sequined pants. The slinky-somewhat sloppy-beige wrap dress. I think it was mostly the shirts that had me lost.

So while Neptune pales in comparison to McQueen's other collections I still feel that it has classic McQueen references such as harness-like details, leather, sharp tailoring and some ingenious draping. If you get a chance I recommend you watch the video. The show proved he was capable of doing wearable clothes and removing the typical McQueen runway theatrics forced people to focus only on the clothes instead of getting swept up in say, a video installation or what have you. The repercussion was that people felt ripped off. Most notably Sarah Mower who called the collection lazy. I agree with that statement to a point. I think perhaps it was mentally lazy and some of the pieces weren't structurally challenging. But also, why would McQueen need to prove he could do wearable? Anway, I hope you enjoyed reading this. I know it's quite exhaustive but I wanted to shed some light on one of McQueen's less notable collections because there really are some amazing pieces in here.


Post a Comment