‘Dance of the Twisted Bull’ was incredibly different in some ways to McQueen’s previous work, and to understand why we need to look at the events surrounding the time of its creation. Seemingly impressed by his S/S 2001 masterpiece ‘VOSS’, the legendary Gucci group decided to buy a share of McQueen as a company which presented enormous opportunities regarding both funding and expansion – an opportunity which McQueen graciously accepted. This acquisition took place in December 2000 when the designer would have been midway through the creation of his A/W 2001 collection – essentially making this, his S/S 2002 collection (which can be seen in full here) the first that he made under the provisions of the Gucci group.
This could be one of the reasons that the collection is one of the designer’s most widely-disregarded, and it ushered us into a new era of McQueen’s timeline; one which seemed to be more commercially-driven and, by consequence, less critically-acclaimed. The increase in budget was clear from the gargantuan video backdrop and the tumbling fountains of smoke that marred the runway, but the collection therefore lacked a lot of the D.I.Y charm that McQueen was renowned for. Like the designer himself, the signature aesthetic had been bronzed, scrubbed and polished resulting in a series of collections that lacked the rough edges which had previously made him the beloved underdog of the fashion industry.
However, a bad collection for McQueen is still a great collection by most standards; as usual the theme was strong, a commentary on the Spanish tradition of bullfighting represented by women in fiery red flamenco dresses and romantically ruffled gypsy blouses. One woman walked the runway with two arrows seemingly penetrating her torso, the fabric of her tiered dress caught on the spikes of the spears that protruded from her spine – a reference to McQueen’s dark sense of humour as well as the danger of the sport.
The scarlet hues used throughout were also steeped in symbolism; they seemed to represent both danger and lust, two themes which are prominent in Spanish culture. Cut-out detailing on dresses left nipples exposed but on the whole the collection was much safer than we, as an audience, had come to expect from McQueen. The work in the dresses was exquisite and some of the results were undeniably beautiful but it’s hard not to feel a little short-changed by this collection – for a man of such innovation to suddenly have to meet sales targets and be commercially-viable seems a shame, and this collection appeared to represent McQueen trying to find his feet in his new role as a ‘brand’ as opposed to a designer.