A Giant Bubble Marks the Return of Alexander McQueen Shows To London

This article originally appeared on AD Middle East.

Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton’s vision of the McQueen SS22 woman as a storm chaser required a lofty stage. And with the show signaling the iconic British brand’s homecoming that was two decades in the making, the stakes were even higher. “The artwork for the prints in this collection was shot from the rooftops of the studio where we are lucky enough to have the most incredible views of the city: from Saint Paul’s Cathedral to the London Eye,” says Burton. “We watched the weather and captured the formation and coloration of clouds from daybreak to nightfall and documented changing patterns.”

But how do you distill the spirit of a collection inspired by London’s mighty skies into an architectural concept for the show? Cue the acclaimed Chilean architect Smiljan Radić, a long-term collaborator of the brand and the man responsible for Alexander McQueen’s Old Bond Street flagship store in London.

A scaffolding system held up the temporary platform erected on the rooftop. The membrane was held in place via a tensile structure.

Photo: Courtesy Alexander McQueen

For Burton’s first in-person show since the start of the pandemic, Radić installed a bulbous, cloud-like temporary structure, taking over the rooftop of a 10-story parking garage in East London’s Tobacco Docklands. Buoyed by a net of steel tensile cables, the transparent membrane was installed on top of a raised structure that leveled the sloping roof, making space for the backstage area and the all-important air vents that kept the bubble afloat. Hydrotreated vegetable oil, a renewable diesel alternative made from grease, food waste, and agricultural residues, powered the generator supplying energy for the event.

Moods of the ever-changing London sky inspired Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2022 RTW collection.

Photo: Courtesy Alexander McQueen

Another look from the collection.

Photo: Courtesy Alexander McQueen

A voluminous white ensemble from the show.

Photo: Courtesy Alexander McQueen

Inside, in the middle of concentric circles of chairs, models emerged from a stair rising from beneath a platform, decked in cloud prints, glossy leather, black tulle, and shimmering crystals. If Burton wanted to transport her guests to the McQueen studio’s balconies where she and the team spent hours sky gazing as they sought inspiration and refuge from an unyielding lockdown, Radić delivered. As if on cue, a brilliant shaft of sunshine pierced though the bubble, and the show began.

On the runway inside the structure, with the London skyline in the background.

Photo: Courtesy Alexander McQueen

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