visions of escape
William Blake was a visionary. A painter, poet and print-maker, considered mad by his contemporaries, who channeled life-long visions of the sublime into some of the most enduring works of the Romantic Age. For Alexander McQueen‘s SS22 menswear collection, creative director Sarah Burton has distilled the quintessential spirit of Blake’s ethereal fantasy into a collection that muses on lightness, air and water.
Building on the sense of escape that Burton explored together with filmmaker Jonathan Glazer last year, this collection finds a similar form of relief in Blake’s vibrant imagination and rejection of the profane. For a man who claimed to convene directly with spirits, Blake embodied the need to break free from the horrors of a newly industrialised Britain. Burton has honoured that same ethos here, with designs that embrace the artist’s signature projection of celestial fantasy and opulence.
Tailoring provides the collection’s bedrock, with a number of elegantly-cut jackets that incorporate zip detailing and come in bold shades of ice pink and cerulean blue. Snapshots from Blake’s illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy are transposed onto knee-length coats as well as two-piece shirt and trouser combinations that reflect his experimental monotype printing technique. Elsewhere the artist’s non-conforming Romanticist spirit is translated into ruffles that explode along hemlines and, perhaps most notably, an exquisite t-shirt dress with a Blake-embroidered bodice and a floor-length skirt that cascades in a blue gradient of shredded chiffon, tulle and organza. True to the man himself and everything his near-40 year career stood for, this collection reminds us of the capacity for beauty to emerge from terror, light to be born of darkness.
GALLERYCatwalk looks from this show