Alexander McQueen Spring 2024 Ad Campaign

Alexander McQueen Teases Seán McGirr Debut

The First Look at the New Creative Director’s Debut Collection is a Darkly Dramatic Return to the House’s Roots

The first creative expression from Alexander McQueen under the leader ship of new creative director Seán McGirr announces a return to the darkness and drama that characterized the original vision of the house’s legendary founder. TBuilding anticipation ahead of the designer’s debut show, the preview imagery features art direction by Edward Quarmby and was shot by videographer Tommy Malekoff.

The imagery strikingly revives core visual motifs of McQueen’s archive: the skull, the original logo for the brand designed by McQueen himself, and an underlying sense of Scottish identity. Their faces enigmatically covered by chrome Halloween masks, models Debra Shaw and Frankie Rayder creep through an old-growth forest, communing with its witchy and ethereal atmosphere that seems to attest to the ancient creative power of the earth. In some images and in Malekoff’s short videos that deepen the mystical atmosphere, they remove their masks, pointing to themes of identity and hiddenness as they reveal a true face beneath.

In terms of the clothing design, we get just a brief window into McGirr’s direction, but it’s enough to have us quite excited. A dress that makes use of crystals to effectively mimic forcefully shattered glass offers a clever continuation of McQueen’s conceptual approach to craft and interrogation of violence, while an angular-shouldered, flare-legged suit assures us that sharp tailoring (of which Sarah Burton was also a master) will still be at the forefront of the brand. But perhaps most telling is the distressed tartan dress, which makes daring reference to Lee McQueen’s most controversial collection, Fall 1995’s Highland Rape. Though many misinterpreted the theme as misogynistic, the collection was in fact a critique of England’s colonial plunder and subjugation of Scotland, a historical trauma that still characterizes economic and political relations in the country today.

It’s impressive that McGirr is able to cast such a wide-ranging conceptual net with a brief set of imagery that feels so immediate and direct. The technique of releasing a teaser before his debut collection follows in the footsteps of Daniel Lee at Burberry and Sabato De Sarno at Gucci, laying the foundation for a new – yet, in each of these cases, historically grounded – chapter while generating hype through engaging, highly shareable imagery. 

But Alexander McQueen’s take might be the most effective example of this approach yet. This is of course thanks in part to the fact that it connected to such a provocative, innovative, culture-defining designer, but McGirr and his creative team have done excellent work to succinctly recapture that maverick energy and focus into a powerful, mysterious, uniquely stylish statement. We can’t wait to see the debut collection.

Alexander McQueen Creative Director | Seán McGirr
Art Director | Edward Quarmby
Videographer | Tommy Malekoff
Models | Debra Shaw and Frankie Rayder
Stylist | Marie Chaix
Hair | Gary Hill
Manicurist | Ama Quashie