To announce its new spring/summer 2022 collection, Alexander McQueen's creative director Sarah Burton has released a short film, called Storm Chasing.
Shot and directed by award-winning music video filmmaker Sophie Muller, it is set on the roof of a building, with the London skyline as the backdrop. Standing on a mirrored disc, the models, all women “chosen for their individuality” by the fashion house, spin, move and turn against a moody, cloud-laden sky.
The clothes shown are signature Burton, with corset bodices over full skirts — cut both as mini and midi length — and a gaberdine trench coat cut into a puffball dress. Most have been overprinted and dyed with images of heavy skies, in indigo blue, inky black and, in the case of the mini dress, printed in pale blue and yellow to resemble a sunrise.
Inspired by storm chasing, the unique pastime of seeking out extreme weather conditions, the clothes are splashed in colour that at times feels light and beautiful, and at others seem ominous and bruised.
In the film, as the models move, the dresses billow and float in the wind, with tied ribbon details, dancing away in a manner that feels almost balletic.
“I love the idea of embracing the mystery and unpredictability of the sky, the fact it is always moving, always changing," says Burton, about the collection.
“I look out over London from our studio where the views are incredible and represent our home throughout history, from St Paul’s Cathedral to the London Eye. The sky against which those familiar monuments appear maybe calm and restorative at times and menacing at others.”
Initially unveiled in October under a glass bubble on a rooftop in East London, the collection has now been captured in video by Muller.
As a fashion house, Alexander McQueen has built its name on juxtaposing extremes, often with uncomfortable results. Under its eponymous founder, boundaries were challenged in ways that were deliberately confrontational, such as bumster jeans and models locked in boxes of one-way glass.
Under Burton, such shock tactics have eased, replaced now with an exploration of the state of womanhood, from textile factory worker to powerful matriarch. Spring/summer 2022 adds another layer to this journey, with women shown as part-Skadi, the Norse goddess of winter.
"For me, the tension between the two is extremely inspiring," says Burton. "It also evokes the paradoxes that have always been at the heart of Alexander McQueen."