The fashion industry can always trust Alexander McQueen to put on a spectacle for its Fashion Week presentations. Returning to Paris’ official calendar for the Fall Winter 2023 season, the brand checked all the boxes of an enticing runway. With Naomi Campbell opening the show, the collection unveiling was off to an exciting start. And Sarah Burton, McQueen’s creative director, did not disappoint, presenting a lineup of sharp, and empowering looks that reflected fashion’s return to tailored, sleek silhouettes. 

Dissecting the Art of Tailoring

For  McQueen’s FW23 collection, Burton looked into the theories of anatomy: from human anatomy to the anatomy of clothing and even the anatomy of flowers. The presentation showcased her representation of beauty and power through tailoring and construction. “The foundations of fashion, cut on the body and inspired by the body within,” said the creative director in the show notes. “Garments are dissected: slashed, sliced, and twisted. Shoulders are strong. Waists are narrow. Heeled trousers elongate the leg: the bumster in reverse.” The color palette featured hues of blacks and whites along with the signature McQueen red and rich shades of dark purple. 

Looking at the runway it was hard not to reminisce about Alexander McQueen himself. After all, tailoring was one of his strengths. Sharp, refined edges and voluminous cuts defined the brand’s FW23 season, which incorporated menswear and womenswear. However, there were still hints of subversive elements, bestowing the lineup with a fresh and sublime touch of modernity. 

Notable Looks

Highlights of the show included tailoring essentials and evening wear. Among the standout looks, a model donned a simple white button-up with a black tie, layered under a leather trench coat. Synonymous with British design, trench coats are often considered classics of preppy style. The outfit, however, featured leather in a rare shade of purple and matching gloves, providing a darker, mysterious aura. 

In similar trench-coat fashion, another model sported a full-length black coat with puffed-up sleeves and an abstract red print emblazoned across the bottom half. A counterpart to this look was a voluminous skirt, paired with a top of layered sleeves. Consistent with the idea of exploring anatomy and nature, the pieces were accentuated with giant orchid prints. 

“The most prominent motif in the collection is the orchid, in its rarer forms cultivated but, after the daisy, the most common flower,” stated Burton. “It thrives in the air, resists being rooted, and grows in the wild. Extraordinarily beautiful and infinitely adaptable, the orchid mimics both predator and prey. In the language of flowers, the orchid is a symbol of love.”

Midrunway, models paraded with dresses that paid tribute to Alexander McQueen’s closing look for his Joan of Arc collection — where the last model posed in the middle of a ring of fire. While the original look included fringes of red beading, the 2023 versions saw similar silhouettes recreated in ravenous black and white and ropes replacing the beading. To close off the spectacle, a model strutted down the runway adorned in an enchanting gown, inspired by the anatomy of orchids. With hard-structured metallic plates at the top and a fluid stream of beads falling down at the bottom, the dress found the balance between strength and sentimentality and perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the aptly titled “Anatomy” collection.

Dramatic, powerful, and well-informed, McQueen’s most recent runway proved Burton’s ability to reinterpret house codes and adapt them to a current context. In a season where tributes and throwbacks to the past abounded, the creative direction highlighted the brand’s tailoring tradition and its focus on empowering through clothes. But most importantly, it demonstrated that the legacy of founder Alexander McQueen is yet to falter. 

Want to read more about the latest fashion shows? Read everything about Saint Laurent’s FW 23 show here.