There has been such a wave of surfing-related material recently that it's a wonder it's taken so long to filter into fashion. Well, surf is finally up for spring 2008. Alexander McQueen's latest collection offered the most precise exposition on the theme, partly because his inspiration (a 1961 LeRoy Grannis image of a kid surfing in black suit and white shirt) was so clear and so compatible with his own sense of theatrics, but more because McQueen is naturally drawn to any rebel spirit. Translation: His laid-back surfer dudes were fused with fifties bad boys in glittery rockabilly quiffs, tailored drapes, and drainpipes. For spring, the designer trawled across a landscape of idealized Americana, drawing together elements as typically contradictory as ten-pin bowlers (shoes and blousons), hippies (T-shirts embroidered with flowers and "LOVE," a print composed of sixties slogansah, yes, sock it to 'em!), and college students (letterman jackets with embroidered tigers). Neoprene leggings directly referenced the inspiration, but the surf print on an immaculately tailored jacket and the flamingo print that decorated shirts and linings were more subtle evocations of the theme.
If it felt generally too studied and several continents away from McQueen's usual obsessions, there was always the surfer's credo of freedom and flight to ground the collection in the designer's own needs. And a muted finale of drowned boys in dripping-wet suits brought the show back to its source.