With its corrugated iron backdrop and thumping techno soundtrack, “It’s A Jungle Out There” (which can be seen in full here) is possibly McQueen’s most industrial collection to date. It is interesting that when giving interviews on the collection, the designer stated that the mood of the show was based on the Thompson’s gazelle – elaborating, he explained that “it’s got these dark eyes, the white and black with the tan markings on the side, the horns – but it is the food chain of Africa. As soon as it’s born, it’s dead. You’re lucky if it lasts a few months, and that’s how I see human life; in the same way. You know, we can all be discarded quite easily. You’re there, you’re gone – it’s a jungle out there".
Although the models were essentially made-up to represent the gazelle with their feline black eyeliner and messy, unkempt manes, adjectives such as ‘vulnerable’ or ‘innocent’ hardly seem applicable. Stomping down the runway with crazed looks in their eyes and snarls on their, these women seemed more to represent the tame gazelle adapting to its surroundings and toughening up to face the urban jungle. McQueen has often said that his clothes are like armour – especially in terms of their size and proportions, they create a barrier between the wearer and their surroundings and create a sense of empowerment. Arguably, the empowerment has never been more literal than in this collection – mainly consisting of ripped and bleached denim, shaggy mohair and raw animal hides, the materials used were savage to the extent that the models appeared to have murdered an animal and thrown it on for decoration.
The collection was less provocative than McQueen’s earlier showings, but the sexuality and provocation was still present; it’s just that it was less obvious and more subtle. There were elements of femininity too in the occasional appearance of a floral motif or a dress woven in broderie anglaise, and there were also flirtations with the western trend in the shape of suede cowboy shirts tied at the waist and worn over flowing white dresses. The signature proportions were there too; the exaggerated sharp shoulders, the extreme nipped-in waists and the flared coats all create a formidable silhouette that the designer has become renowned for. The feminine proportions of the waspish waist teamed with the dramatic shoulders embody the almost animalistic sexuality of the archetypal ‘McQueen woman’, and she came out in full force with this collection.