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Ready To Wear: The return of a much-loved and thoroughly British name


This evening sees the return of the Alexander McQueen name to the London catwalk after an absence of more than a decade.

It will be very welcome. This is still very much a London-based brand in spirit, despite the fact that a 51 per cent stake of it is owned by the Gucci Group (Italian), which in turn is presided over by PPR (Pinault-Printemps-Redoute; French). All of this, one might argue, is testimony to the international beast that designer fashion – and the luxury-goods industry more broadly – has become.

With that in mind, it is not insignificant that the Alexander McQueen main line collection won't be shown until the beginning of next month, in Paris. Instead, Sarah Burton, the Alexander McQueen creative director since its eponymous founder's death a little over two years ago, is showing the label's second line, McQ, at the climax of London Fashion Week, and that seems like a well-judged move.

Launched in 2006, McQ was always conceived as a more reasonably priced, street-inspired little sister (and indeed brother) compared with the by-now-grand affair that Alexander McQueen has become. Burton has clearly decided to continue in that vein.

"There's definitely an emphasis on daywear for McQ," she says in the latest issue of AnOther magazine. "Maybe McQ's a bit looser, a bit more everyday, a jacket you can throw on, an oversized coat, a knit... It's still very important to me that it tells a story, though, that we're creating a character who is part of the world of Alexander McQueen."

For autumn/winter 2012, then, she says, she's been thinking about Land Girls, about military references and about nature, of course. The people who inhabit this world are younger and more irreverent, perhaps, than the more upscale Alexander McQueen woman and represent the magpie, make-do-and-mend aesthetic the London Look has always been feted for. The move makes sound sense both in terms of business and aesthetics, then.

However one looks at it, London is lucky to play host to this great fashion name and to a house that, for all its global recognition, has a quintessentially British heart.