By Erin Moonyeen Haley
Alexander McQueen Creative Director Sarah Burton had an epic vision to showcase the McQueen ready-to-wear Spring 2023 styles: "This collection is about searching for humanity and human connection.”
Hence the incorporation of Hieronymus Bosch’s famous triptych, Garden of Earthly Delights (1490-1500). Originally referred to as the Strawberry Painting, the image is both outrageous and carnal, a Kahlo-esq embrace of turgid reproductive organs, symbolic berries scattered about chimeric creatures that are half bird, half toad; beetles forged from armor, fleshy motifs of the Seven Deadly Sins and numerous other images that expressly state that the moral of the story is to resist temptation at all costs.
As if embracing the pseudo-absurdity as well as the artistic morality of Bosch, models jettisoned up an angular walkway with sharp right turns, straight into a ginormous plastic bubble for McQueen’s Spring 2023 show, eagerly transplanting themselves from one reality to another.
Within the soapy structure - made by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic and constructed atop a car park in Tobacco Dock - models strutted in a variety of looks, with several featuring the famous Bosch eye. For Burton, the eye symbolized "a register of emotion, an expression of uniqueness," something omnipresent in its sacredness in the fashion world."
While artistic eyes dominated tailored jackets and dresses with winged shoulders, they also polka-dotted sculpted dresses with cobalt irises that were seemingly more potent than the eye of Sauron. Elbow-length black leather gloves completed the look.
Naomi Campbell dominated the runway in a sequined catsuit, with an eye-of-the-tiger image roaring in the center and paired with stiletto boots.
If Bosch hadn't been the stated-outright inspiration, some fabrics could have been said to have Henri Matissse vibes, with explosions of jungle colors arresting the eye, perfectly adapted to silhouettes that seemed to be a cross between birds-of-paradise petal arrangementsts and kimono folds. A profusion of deep indigo and rubescent feathers were layered over tassels of black, as if creating abstract topiaries for one of those untouched island retreats that hasn't yet been ruined by Instagrammers.
A space-age red one-piece electrified the audience, while the classic black leather jacket made encore appearances in a variety of versatile cuts and styles that could be motorcycle appropriate or simply Pink-lady-chic. Speaking of pink, color dominated the runway in the form of a flamigo-pink corset, an electric-blue dress and an asymmetrical tangerine skirt.
At the end of the day, both Bosch and McQueen would have been proud.
Images courtesy of Vogue Runway and W.