This story is part of a series, Past/Present, highlighting images and articles from Vogue that have personal significance to our editors.
One of the most unforgiving platitudes: Hindsight is 20/20. Looking back on Alexander McQueen’s spring 2010 collection, titled Plato’s Atlantis, it’s easy to read the show as a forebear of fashion’s streaming revolution, a herald of biomorphic and biophilic fashion, and the progenitor of our obsession with really quite bizarre footwear. Hindsight also tells us that this transfixing, monolithic runway show was McQueen’s last.
In writing some and reading all of the Past/Present columns on our site, it’s becoming apparent to me how much relief there is in exploring the certainties of what’s come before—and how alleviating it is to find something finite and unchanging in a present where every day brings new anxieties. But here at Vogue Runway, we firmly believe that going back has to push us forward.
So about that McQueen show. When it debuted on the runway in October 2009, it was advertised as the first livestreamed fashion show. Hosted on Nick Knight’s Showstudio platform, the stream was revolutionary in that it brought one of the most cerebral of fashion world heroes to the masses. It has also become legendary—and maybe a bit infamous—for its promotion by Lady Gaga, who directed her Little Monsters to the stream, thus crashing the Showstudio site. Digital fashion has come a long way since then, though 10 years later, it doesn’t feel like we’ve reached another milestone quite like it. Yes, social media has revolutionized communication around the world, but within the fashion community advanced digital modeling technologies, 3D printing, AR, and VR remain fringe obsessions instead of mainstream techniques.
McQueen’s garments themselves were a hybridization of human and animal forms, turning snakeskins and luminescent sequins into garments suggestive of a more evolved wardrobe that could, perhaps, serve a functional purpose. Darwinians would argue that fashion should have caught up by now, turning McQueen’s propositions for amphibian dresses into something more feasible. If Nike can make sneakers to make you actually run faster, why is there not a cocktail dress like those McQueen posited in 2010 to make you stand taller, move more swiftly, dance easier. Where is the frock that’s every bit as lovely and also red wine resistant?