Neptune. The mythological Roman God of freshwater and the sea, Neptune was brother to Jupiter and Pluto who collectively watched over the Heavens, Earth and the Underworld. Neptune was also the subject of McQueen’s S/S 2006 collection (which can be seen in full here), one which promised to use the inspiration of Roman mythology to propel the aesthetic for a collection which would, in the designer’s words, ‘bring sexy back’. In interviews he particularly referenced the master of the female body Azzedine Alaia, praising his way of making women look undeniably sexy whilst still maintaining an air of class. The hype was present and the references were exciting, so it is particularly surprising that the collection that followed ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ was, in many ways, just as lacklustre as its predecessor.
The references to the ‘Alaia’ brand of sexuality, the promise to ‘bring sexy back’ and the mythological undertones were all present in the show, yet they were all executed in a way that was uncharacteristically literal for the designer. The bandage dresses were as much an Alaia reference as the abundance of bodycon – that much was clear. As for the wet-look locks and the wrestler belts, they ticked the ‘Neptune’ boxes whilst the sheer blouses and exposed breasts highlighted the fact that sex was the dish of the day on the seasonal McQueen menu. All of the references were present which technically means that the designer lived up to his promises – technically.
However, once again there was the real feeling that being the best was no longer on the designer’s agenda. Many have criticised the show as being lazy and it certainly rings true here – more than just commercial, the clothing was uninspired. It was Graeco-Roman by numbers (an aesthetic that Versace has already claimed as its own) with a few smatterings of the 80s power bitch silhouette represented by sharp waistlines and big shoulderpads (a look which has already been done to death by houses such as Balmain). As was becoming customary, the models were marched down a bog-standard runway and the ‘ready-to-wear’ label was perfectly appropriate to the series of skimpy silver minidresses and black skirtsuits that were shown. As a designer that was so often self-referential in his work, it was truly disappointing to see a collection that featured barely any of McQueen’s trademarks.