Charles Darwin in 1859 gave us a theory of evolution, the science of natural selection, an argument for the ‘survival of the fittest’, and a story of how man triumphs. He was an avid explorer in his youth, travelling the world for field study, discovering and collecting specimens, making a Victorian enquiry into who we are. For AW16, the collection embraces the spirit of travel and a world newly open to exploration and the gathering of collectibles, but in the way of the McQueen tradition of flora, fauna and memento mori. This is a collection obsessed with the elegance that ‘survives’ the struggle for life.
The collection is inspired by traditional British tailoring to give a wardrobe of classically elegant pieces. Cashmere, camel, chevron wool, morning stripe are trimmed with velvet or embroidered. A great coat is made from a floral tapestry based on oil paintings; the same print is applied on silk to produce a single breasted 2 button suit and trenchcoat. Silk twill shirts in a fitted or oversized silhouette are printed in Darwinian style renderings or drawings of fossil figures or snake specimens. Classic Argyll and Fairisle knitwear are distressed. Butterflies are a key design feature of the collection – there are specimen drawings of them woven as a jacquard and worn as a full suit or swarms of butterflies embroidered on a flannel Crombie or camel hair knitted jumper. Moths embroidered on a boiled pinstriped wool suit are shrouded in tulle. Military references feature prominently in the collection, from silver buttons to epaulettes embroidered with brass butterflies. Ceremonial jackets come in a paisley soutage or are decorated in jet beading. Floral printed velvet suits are encrusted with diamanté and jet beading and metal sequins in a paisley pattern creeps down a tailored jacket and coat. Trousers come fitted with a flare or tapered and cropped at the ankle and trimmed with velvet ribbon or satin.