Alexander McQueen Fall 2024: See Seán McGirr’s Debut Collection


On a Saturday night on the outskirts of Paris, Seán McGirr launched a new era of Alexander McQueen. Guests filed into an underground industrial warehouse and wrapped themselves in acid yellow blankets left on every seat. Outside it was chucking down rain, and inside the mood was less cozy than mildly suspenseful. Upon his appointment as creative director of the London-based house in October of last year, McGirr was relatively unknown. He arrived with big shoes to fill and high expectations to meet, succeeding the critically adored Sarah Burton, who spent more than 25 years at the brand, working closely with Lee Alexander McQueen and taking over after the designer’s death in 2010.

Now, McGirr is being tasked by McQueen parent company Kering with turning a new page in the brand’s closely-studied story. McQueen is still synonymous with conceptual high fashion the same way Chanel is synonymous with luxury, and the iconoclastic founder’s subversive work continues to inspire and invigorate new generations of fashion designers and obsessives. Given the weighty legacy of the brand, McGirr’s debut was the most anticipated and scrutinized of the season.

A few minutes before 9:00, a frowning young model, hands stuffed in the pockets of a long satin overcoat, accentuating his square shoulders, lurched down the runway. Meet the new McQueen man. “With McQueen, there’s a vocabulary, there’s a peak lapel, there’s a strong shoulder, there’s a waist,” McGirr said backstage. “And I feel like my job is really to bring a new energy to that.”

Here’s what you need to know about his debut show.

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen Fall 2024 See Sen McGirrs Debut Collection

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

There were a lot of scarily louche suits

Lee McQueen, who founded his namesake brand in 1992, was a tailor by trade, known for a precise silhouette that accentuated the erogenous parts of the body. McGirr leaned heavily into that legacy, channeling what he called “rough glamor” through leather overcoats kinkily bound tightly at the waist, and dangerous gray and white jackets paired with drapey trousers, shimmery shirts, and pointy Western-style brogues. He replicated the balance of McQueen’s silhouette—nipped midsections, powerful shoulders—with suits that were heavily structured around the upper torso but loose and casual through the leg, creating an image about “singular characters that have a very strong personality,” as he said backstage. Some models wore nefarious fedoras, while others wore the scowl of the last person you’d want to meet on such a dark, rainy night.

Alexander McQueen Fall 2024 See Sen McGirrs Debut Collection

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen Fall 2024 See Sen McGirrs Debut Collection

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen Fall 2024 See Sen McGirrs Debut Collection

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

There were also horse-hoof boots

McGirr’s most striking design joins a long line of outrageous McQueen footwear, like the “armadillo” shoes famously worn by Lady Gaga. His contribution to the vertiginous archive is a series of boots with the shape and heft of horse hooves, apparently inspired by the indigenous Traveler people of his native Ireland. It remains to be seen if the hoof boots will be commercialized, but their viral potential puts the Tabi to shame—with horseshoes nailed to the soles, the models walked with a distinct clippity-clop.

Alexander McQueen Fall 2024 See Sen McGirrs Debut Collection

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen Fall 2024 See Sen McGirrs Debut Collection

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

McGirr thinks Lee McQueen was the “greatest designer that ever lived.”

As he told Vogue’s Nicole Phelps, McGirr revers the larger-than-life fashion iconoclast. And he thinks McQueen’s rebel attitude and appetite for controversy feels particularly urgent today. “I feel like Lee McQueen’s message that he put out into the world is so relevant,” McGirr added backstage. “I’m into this idea of anti-politeness, because we live in a very polite world at the moment, and so his message is more relevant than ever.”

But he’s not necessarily a McQueen acolyte

If Seán McGirr comes from any design lineage, it is Jonathan Anderson’s. Prior to joining McQueen, McGirr was the head of ready-to-wear at JW Anderson, which he joined in 2020. He clearly retains an Andersonian conceptual flair for sculpture and form, seen in a couple enormous hand-knit tops that cloaked the wearers’ heads, and structured tops embellished with shards of mirrors that called back to spidery smashed iPhone screens. Three closing “car dresses” made of shaped steel were—in classic Anderson fashion—surreal ideas of clothes rather than actual clothes. In a funny way, I noticed backstage, he even talks kind of like his former boss, unloading a pallet of imaginative abstract references by way of explaining his design process: “The sort of idea of a compressed silhouette…” He was talking about one of his storytelling starting points, McQueen’s Spring-Summer 1995 show “The Birds,” but I could practically hear it in Anderson’s own boyish Irish lilt.

Alexander McQueen Fall 2024 See Sen McGirrs Debut Collection

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen Fall 2024 See Sen McGirrs Debut Collection

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen Fall 2024 See Sen McGirrs Debut Collection

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

He’s something of a menswear specialist

Alexander McQueen men’s has always been relatively undefined. The founder himself couldn’t always crack the men’s side of the business, which he shut down in 2002 and then restarted in 2010. Burton’s menswear—and particularly her razor sharp formalwear—was well-represented on red carpets thanks to the likes of Timothée Chalamet, but she didn’t hold men’s runway shows every season. McGirr brings to the job a host of experience in that department. After graduating from Central Saint Martins, he moved to Tokyo to work on Uniqlo men’s under Christophe Lemaire. After a stint in Antwerp with Dries Van Noten, he joined JW Anderson as head of his critically acclaimed menswear.

Alexander McQueen Fall 2024 See Sen McGirrs Debut Collection

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen Fall 2024 See Sen McGirrs Debut Collection

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

There is a new logo

Sort of. McGirr is bringing back a logo originally sketched by McQueen, where the “c” lives inside the “Q.” The major change? It appears he’s quietly dropped “Alexander” from the logo. However a rep confirmed that the brand is still going by “Alexander McQueen.”

He’s also bringing the skull back

One model, shirtless under a diaphanous silk overcoat, carried a handbag that glowed with a sinister red light: the Alexander McQueen skull motif, rendered in glowering LEDs. Remember those infamous indie sleaze McQueen skull scarves? The noise around McGirr’s debut could foretell a Gen-Z revival of yet another kitschy aughts style touchstone.

Alexander McQueen Fall 2024 See Sen McGirrs Debut Collection

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen Fall 2024 See Sen McGirrs Debut Collection

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

There were cars on the moodboard

McGirr’s father was a car mechanic. “I grew up talking cars with him, it was our weird connection with design, I suppose,” McGirr said. The Lamborghini yellows and glossy blues in the collection, he explained, were a nod to this personal history, and his way of introducing “a new way of looking at color” into the brand.

He loves Enya

When the dramatic instrumental soundtrack faded into Enya’s “Orincoco Flow (Sail Away),” the crowd couldn’t help but smile. There we were in a concrete bunker, watching mean models careen down the runway in villainous fits. But as the Irish New Age legend’s ’80s hit looped over and over during the finale, the whole scene—and the clothes themselves—immediately felt so much less serious.

It was a funny move, given how seriously some people take McQueen. And a knowing one. I don’t think McGirr was trying to win over McQueen scholars and hardcore fashion fans who feel a sense of ownership over the designer’s legacy. Backstage, McGirr explained his new intentions, saying he wanted the mood of the show to be “Uplifting.” Even if the clothes look scowly, McGirr wants to have fun with it. “I think the McQueen woman and McQueen man are upbeat,” he said. “There should be a lightness in the air, somehow.” It was, undeniably, the new energy he had promised.



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