It's telling that when Alexander McQueen conceded an interest in superheroes for his new collection, the first creature that sprung to his mind was a warlock. Let's face ithe's always found the dark side a much more inspiring proposition than its sweetness 'n' light alternative, and for that we can all be heartily grateful, especially when it yields a collection as startling and individual as this. In purely technical terms, McQueen mastered a striking repertoire of effects, such as the silvery glaze on a gray flannel suit, the plastic coating on a Prince of Wales check, or the taffeta-and-felt bonding that turned scuba neoprene into the stuff of jackets and pea coats. Only McQueen could make a conceptual point of the interplay between the most luxurious natural fibers and the most Hazmat-toned synthetics (orange nylon was a particular standout).
But that is hardly why McQueen's work continues to enthrall, even as his creativity ebbs and flows. He's the most cinematic of designers, and with this collection, he offered up a vision that combined the broad-shouldered, immaculately-tailored elegance of haute Hollywood with a dystopian futurism that left his models looking like glassy-eyed replicants. It was extraordinary, if a bit deadening. Still, the bugle-beaded jackets that McQueen presented as a finale must surely stand as the new century's definitive statement on male glamouruntil his own next show, at least.