Monday, 2 December 2013


Proving that he still knows how to inject excitement into a traditional runway presentation, McQueen took expectations to new heights (literally) with his Spring/Summer 2000 collection, 'Eye' (which can be seen in full here). As heavily influenced by Middle-Eastern culture as it was hardcore porn, the collection was based on two very extreme portrayals of female sexuality and, in a move that would probably now be deemed too controversial for the fashion industry, featured sexed-up versions of traditional Middle-Eastern dress (and yes, that does include the burqa).

As was the case with 'La Poupée' models stomped down a flooded runway in mules that came both in black leather as well as metallic silver - naturally, the silver pairs were decorated with lashings of gleaming metal spikes, as were several of the garments that featured in the collection. Metal in general was omnipresent throughout the collection - from the chain-mail dress with matching mask through to the intimidatingly oversized spikes that lined the centre of the runway, the aggressive undertone that marred the ethereality of certain looks wasn't exactly masked.

The models, however, were masked. Sometimes they wore hardcore leather gimp masks and sometimes they wore beaded chiffon veils, but it quickly became obvious why McQueen chose to name the collection 'Eye'. A prominent symbol in Middle-Eastern culture, the eye represents provocation, femininity and sensuality. The best example is the burqa - a vast swathe of black fabric that leaves only the eyes visible; the burqa forced women to use all instruments at their disposal to make the small glimpse of skin that was seen by men look as beautiful as possible. Rumour had it that prostitutes were distinguished only by their heavy eye make-up - heavy strokes of coloured eyeshadow and thick eyeliner that invited men to come and see what lay beneath the burqa. Some also view the burqa as synonymous to female emprisonment, which could explain the reason that McQueen chose bondage to juxtapose the full coverage of the Middle-Eastern dress. Rubber gimp masks seemed to hint at a subversive nature, yet the vast expanse of bare flesh and the aggressive confidence of the models themselves ( one woman, for example, wore a studded leather harness that left her breasts completely exposed as she brazenly rubbed her nipples) indicated that these women were in full control of their sexuality.

Perhaps the most attractive aspect of McQueen's work is that, no matter which controversial subjects he chooses to tackle, it is always the women themselves that come out on top. His stance is always one which aims to empower women as opposed to objectify them, a stance which has resulted in the stereotype of the 'McQueen woman' as one that you wouldn't fuck with. His garments provide an exoskeleton, an armour of sorts to the modern woman - a concept which appeared in this collection in the form of a red leather corset complete with an anatomic decoration of a spikey metal ribcage which literally protuded from the garment itself, placing a literal spacial barrier between the woman and the world around her. With this collection, the commentary and the concepts remain the same as ever - they show that McQueen himself is a vigilant supporter of woman and their right to feel strong, represented in the finale that saw a series of models suspended from the ceiling performing acrobatics over a bed of nails. The aesthetic and the presentation were different, but it was the bloody, beating heart of McQueen that linked the collection and tied the parts together.

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