Alexander McQueen A/W 2007: “In Memory of Elizabeth Howe, Salem 1692

Lee McQueen was known for using history to influence his collections, but for this season, he found a connection even beyond fashion. His mother discovered, while doing research on family genealogy, that they could in fact trace their lineage back to Elizabeth Howe, who was hanged during the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts in 1692. Accused of ‘afflicting’ several girls in Salem with the use of witchcraft, she was imprisoned and set to be executed. 

McQueen certainly portrayed the macabre tone by setting the runway with a large, blood-red pentagram. The stadium-sized room was pitch black, and the stage was barely lit, with hovering screens overhead in the shape of an inverted pyramid (fitting with the other theme of Ancient Egypt) that played gruesome footage of diseased and decaying flesh and eerie naked women. Ancient Egypt was present in the beauty look of the collection, which featured Cleopatra-esque eyeliner, vivid green eyeshadow (all from McQueen’s collection that year for MAC), and dark, defined brows. 

The clothing was surprisingly wearable, given the intensely dark subject matter. McQueen’s signature silhouette, of the tiny waist and exaggerated shoulders, was still shown, but he also eschewed that for several tops that looked like leather pods, with rounded backs and flat fronts. Gowns that seemed fit for a queen of Egypt, decked in shimmering fabrics in black with accents of green and gold, were topped with elaborate hairstyles and headpieces such as the half-moon shown above. 

Though critics panned the collection for its ‘over-the-top’ theatrics, the clothing was indicative of Lee’s love for strong women, and his use of fashion as armor.