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Alexander McQueen Menswear Spring Summer 2015 London

The Royal College of Surgeons witnessed Sarah Burton perform an intervention, an open heart surgery of sorts for a more literal metaphor. The shadow McQueen cast on Burton – though widely unspoken – was till now present. Previous collections of safe bets branded Burton more as a loyal second-in-command hanging onto the illusion that McQueen might someday return, a notion that is perhaps not only harboured by her. Spring/Summer 15 marked a new beginning for the OBE, and perhaps offered some form of poetic closure, as she sent down an army of surgeons to immortalize McQueen and rescue his legacy by coming into her own.

The opening looks were a series of blank canvases with swatches of coloured patchwork. Against the context of the grand hall of RCS, they resembled lab coats fit for this very operation. Even the models echoed a departure from the usual Victorian neo-Goth embodiment: this season they were more of the time. The only thing nostalgic was the Missy Eliott soundtrack of the early nighties that heralded them down the catwalk.  There were no skulls to be seen and sportswear quickly became the order of the day.

In setting things afresh, Sarah Burton kept McQueen’s core values intact; sharp tailoring, structured outerwear and the neo-Gothic black-red-white tri-colour. The homage to Saville Row tailoring that defined Lee McQueen to his final days was keenly felt through the accents of Prince of Wales checks. Leather trims and S&M harnesses reminiscent of McQueen’s “Golden Shower” collection in 1998 also made a comeback. But if anything it also showed – for better or worse – just how gentrified Alexander McQueen has become.

Sarah Burton’s move to breathe new life into the menswear label today is a step to be commended. Having sustained the media’s interest this long after Lee’s departure is a feat on its own and now finally executing her own vision for the brand is perhaps the best homage she can give her much beloved mentor.