LONDON — Most of this city has been snagged in safety, but Alexander McQueen violently shredded the net. The collection he showed Monday night, “The Highland Rape,” was aggressive and disturbing; some even said the political rhetoric was a bit passe. But everybody left talking about it, which is more than you can say for many shows this season. With the Jacobite Rebellion as its theme, the collection was intended to counter romanticized images of Scottish history.
“Everybody thinks it’s all about pretty tartans and heather,” said McQueen, who happens to be a Scotsman, after the show. “But I wanted to show that the war between the Scottish and English was basically genocide.”
Exactly what pillage has to do with selling clothes puzzled some retailers. What they saw was a runway strewn with dead flowers and filled with deflowered, battered women spattered with blood. There were jackets with missing sleeves; skin-tight rubber pants and skirts half pulled off, plus tattered laces and torn suedes which exposed breasts, behinds and crotches.
In the midst of all the carnage, there actually were some great-looking clothes — beautiful tartans, sharply cut military jackets, long coats with ruched hems and wide-legged pants. There was even a touch of sweetness in knits with long, floppy sleeves.
So what if there were hints of Westwood, Lang and Galliano? Everybody borrows a little, and at least McQueen stirred up the season — just in time for the final curtain.
Here’s the other action of the day:
BIG BEN: American retailers love Ben de Lisi’s sophisticated eveningwear, and he gave them plenty to choose from: ink blue satins, steamy siren gowns and some of the sexiest shirts in town.
ENGLISH CHANNELS: Burberry, Aquascutum — and Farhi? Nicole covered the English Classics — from strong coats and mannish suits to some unfortunate mum-ish lengths.
AROUSING AMANDA: Tight day and slinky evening looks that are perfect for customer Princess Di’s man-catching wardrobe.
CONSERVATIVE CHIC: Clements Ribeiro’s early Sixties mood turned into some perfectly pretty clothes.
THE BIG TOP: Lisa Johnson went for a circus theme and came up with smart, simple shapes in everything from shearling to sequins.
COME RAIN OR SHINE: A lady has both good times and bad. Joe Casely-Hayford covers them both: for the better days, good loden coats and Norfolk jackets; when life’s a bitch, Ts proclaiming “Prozac Babe.”
HONESTLY, ABE: If real women were meant to walk the runway, Naomi Campbell would be a full-time novelist. But Abe Hamilton still had some knits and dresses that were pretty in an oddball way.
MEN OVERBOARD: Copperwheat/Blundell seemed more interested in showing off its men’s wear collection. So much so that a good women’s look was hard to find.
ON GUARD: A girl would be armed and dangerous in Owen Gaster’s pointy-shouldered jackets and pants with knifelike knees.
DI’S BACKING: The Princess of Wales apparently woke up Monday morning and decided that after all she’s done for the CFDA, it might be nice to get out there and support British fashion. So she called her friend Anna Harvey, deputy editor of British Vogue. The two toured the exhibition center for a half hour, where Diana chatted away with designers and checked out the fashions. It then was suggested the princess might like to see a show. Diana — who’s always longed to take her place in the front row — leapt at the chance despite warnings she’d send the photographers wild. She did just that at Joe Casely-Hayford’s show, where Diana watched intently from the end of the runway and then sped away.