Historically, a tribe is a social group who exist outside of the state, holding a common dialect enunciated through their dress and uniformity. The Alexander McQueen S/S14 show created a new breed of tribe, referencing ethnic clothing throughout history, from African headwear and Zulu-esque cow tails to Celtic kilts and embroidery. Geometric prints in blue, white and red harnessed the collection, accented by belts, shackles, buckles and ostrich feathers. Tiered dresses were accessorised by helmets and heavy bangles that stacked up the wrists, suggestive of Celtic warriors steeped in McQueen's Scottish heritage, reminiscent of his chillingly titled breakthrough 1995 collection, “Highland Rape".
McQueen always said that he viewed clothing like armour, and this collection adopts this idea in its most literal sense, with harnesses and breastplates worn with leather-bra tops, laser-cut dresses and leggings. Opulent beading and feather details sewn into staccato prints, led by the McQueen macabre spirit.
Anthropologists refer to the term tribe when referencing societies organised by kinship. There is a sense of alliance within a McQueen collection, underpinned by the legacy that the late designer left and the group of loyal friends that he collated from Central Saint Martins, his east London social life and the late nineties fashion circuit, the likes of Isabella Blow and Shaun Leane, Daphne Guinness and Annabelle Neilson, all of whom twinkle somewhere within this collection.
Text by Mhairi Graham