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Fashion fans are divided over Sean McGirr’s debut collection for Alexander McQueen

After the 13-year reign of Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, newly appointed creative director Sean McGirr sent models waddling down the runway in his 2024 Fall Ready-to-wear collection – his first for the renowned brand. Arguably the most anticipated of the season, the 2 March show prompted diverse commentary as fashion fans praised and criticised McGirr’s direction for McQueen.

Inside the SEGRO Centre Paris Les Gobelins, a renovated train station engulfed in an aura of desertedness similar to the King’s Cross rave warehouse where Alexander McQueen showed his 1995 spring collection, a plethora of concepts were fed to the eager audience. Men’s leather trenches with pointed shoulders and cinched waistlines were paired with face-covering fedoras, forming smooth criminal characters. Knits and faux fur tops with rising circular necklines shielded expressions allowing only for the models’ narrow eyes to peak over the top.

Where Burton offered romantic responses using natural elements, McGirr offered a taste of mystery with all sorts of fabrics, from velvet to mohair, shearling, and stiff steel casings. Animal print dresses with sweeping silhouettes, pinstripe suits, skinny-leg denim, hoof-shaped boots, and sequined gowns were scattered thrills among the offerings.

The show notes read: “A rough opulence. Revealing the animal within. A compressed and elongated silhouette. Objects embedded and enveloped. Knitted statuary.”

Archive cues were noticed in the sculpture-like structures of chunky sweaters and long overcoats. McGirr cited McQueen’s 1995 spring collection, The Birds, as being an inspiration for his debut line, as well as paparazzi pictures of Kate Moss and Amy Winehouse wearing brand emblems from the ‘90s. But in general, the designer, who’s worked alongside JW Anderson and Dries Van Noten, was motivated by the damaged, eccentric outsider.

“Outsiders. I’m really interested in that. So I guess it’s about singular characters with really strong personalities that I’d be very curious to meet on the street in London; this sort of rough glamour of the East End,” he explained. “This idea of sort of damaged opulence. And I also like this kind of b****y intelligence that kind of comes through a little bit in the attitude of the boys and girls.”

When asked backstage whether he was “intimidated” to “fill the shoes” of his predecessor, Burton, and the namesake designer, McGirr admitted he didn’t think of things that way. The 35-year-old designer said he was focused on “bringing new energy” to the brand.

That said, longtime admirers and dedicated consumers of McQueen weren’t too pleased by this “new energy.” A stir of people online noted how they thought McGirr’s collection was too far off base from what the fashion house under both McQueen and Burton had refined and built upon.

One passionate person on TikTok wrote: “It’s not just that I don’t like the collection because that is very subjective, it’s that I see no through line to what Alexander McQueen has been.”

“If you just see this show without context or notice, I bet you couldn’t put McQueen name to it,” another added.

On X, formerly known as Twitter, one woman explained her thoughts in detail: “I spot the references to Lee work but wasn’t done in an affirmative way, there wasn’t a new point of view that came out of it, the clothes feels just like a watered down version of the originals.”

“I didn’t expect anything so wasn’t too shocked about how weak it was but for those hoping to experience the Lee McQueen magic and theatrics once again it was a rude awakening, McGirr isn’t bringing it back and his approach seems to be even more commercial than Sarah,” she added.

Others online begged for Burton’s return, and some added how they thought the dark McQueen soul was “missing” and needed.

One person disagreed: “Not as bad as what ppl are making it seem.”

“Cool clothes and not so much leather which is good, creative fashion,” a support added.

A third noted: “He’s off to a good start. Rescued some of Lee’s drama, incorporated some of his previous inspo and proposed a more commercial line. I think that most designers that take over these brands are afraid of creating something new and are always looking back on archives. 8/10.”

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