Alexander McQueen A/W 2006 “The Widows of Culloden”
On March 2, 2006, Paris Fashion Week attendees were clambering to get into Alexander McQueen’s Autumn/Winter show. Hype had been building for some time, and people were ready for McQueen to reclaim his throne as Britain’s l’enfant terrible, after two consecutively ‘commercial’ runway shows. Invited guests had received a cryptic invitation, picturing an Edwardian girl and the phrase ‘Bantraich de cuil Lodair’ (Gaelic for ‘The Widows of Culloden’).
Within the wooden runway was a glass pyramid, similar to that of the Louvre. Models began to emerge, wearing gorgeous, romantic creations that were linked to McQueen’s Scottish legacy. This show was a re-working of his infamous “Highland Rape” collection; though the signature tartan and cold-faced beauties were still there, everything was scrupulously detailed, with bustles, lace, and furs, to emphasize the women’s beauty, rather than detract from it. Influences were all within the scope of the Romantic Gothic, going from historic Scotland, to dressed-up punk, to Lady Macbeth. All pieces had the same incredible attention to detail, perfect Savile-Row tailoring, and delicate nipped-in waists. Beautiful bird-like headpieces were both a reference to McQueen’s fascination and love for birds as a child, and his dear friend Isabella Blow, who was battling depression.
Suits and elaborate knee-length dresses first took the runway, in shades of taupe, beige, and muted greens. Soon this made way for the collection of tartan dresses and pantsuits, followed by velvety all-black creations. The finale was a pure couture dream, featuring frothy wedding gowns, lace and antler headpieces (worn by Raquel Zimmerman, shown above), and embroidered coats over lavender tiered-chiffon dresses.
As the last model left the runway, the stage darkened to black. The first notes of the heart-wrenching theme from Schindler’s List were heard, and an iridescent bluish-white figure started to slowly rotate within the pyramid. As it rotated, it became larger and clearer; to the pure shock of the audience, it soon was revealed to be a hologram of Kate Moss, wearing one of the flowing wedding dresses just shown on the runway. Moving many of the audience members to tears, Kate’s melancholy image slowly receded back into the ether, leaving a lasting impression on the fashion world.
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