For me the only thing besides the awe-inspiring, vertigo-inducing footwear shown on the Alexander McQueen S/S 2010 runway that made an impression was the film, directed by Nick Knight of course, that played at the opening of the show. In it model Raquel Zimmermann, lit in deathly shades of blue and naked as the day she was born, was writhing around in a state akin to ecstasy (really, the only way to writhe imo). Slithering around on the aforementioned naked model were dozens of snakes. It was an incredibly powerful image, a giant video screen dominated by a beautiful woman falling prey to the evils of temptation. Or, you know, not. Personally the video made me think more of Lilith, the personification of temptation itself, than of Eve, the mortal who gave into it.
TBH I'm not at all surprised that McQueen and Knight chose to adapt that image for the campaign. But whereas the video was haunting, dark and overtly sexual, the campaign is lighter, both literally and figuratively. For starters, you'd be hard pressed to find pythons or boa constrictors that haven't already been made into accessories in the colors that Knight dreamed up. Pretty much every primary and secondary shade on the color wheel is present and accounted for, and with the sheer amount of serpents both large and small the first impression of the shot is like a bomb exploding in your retinas. You don't know where to focus first, though the chartreuse snakeskin "armadillo" platforms, as they've been informally known, are a good place to start. Of course, those shoes are on someone's feet, and those feet are connected to a body somewhere under the swirling mass of cold-blooded color. Let your eyes adjust for a second and then you see her, though just barely, and that's where the otherwise striking image falls flat for me. All you see is snake patterns everywhere, dominating the entire image. While the intensity of the color and pattern makes for a strong first impact, any impact that the image of a woman tangled in serpents might have is completely lost. I cannot fathom why anyone would have chosen that snake printed catsuit as the wardrobe for this shot because it blends right in. That may very well have been the intent, but I don't think it makes for a great image. It's simply too much of one thing. Besides that, and more confusingly, with all of the extravagantly molded, printed and puffed mini dresses shown on the runway you pick a printed lycra catsuit to represent the collection? I mean granted, all that the runway collection amounted to was a bunch of beautifully manipulated prints, and that's exactly what the ad is trying to sell you, but again, the printed clothing is canceled out by the snakes. It's basically just part of the background.
So I'm torn about it. On the one hand it's a really cool image on it's own. Even though McQueen's ads don't show up in magazines, there is absolutely NO WAY you would miss this if it did. Plus it's the polar opposite of all the other ads this season which have been focusing first and foremost on the clothes. This is an unapologetic feast for the eyes by comparison. But the problem is that the eyes, or at least my eyes, don't really have anywhere to go once the initial bang of "Ooh, colored snakes" wears off. There really isn't anything else to look at after that because that's precisely what dominates the entire photograph. Quite honestly I think that she should have been naked, wearing only the shoes (and might I add, not those particular shoes). As it is the ad doesn't have the same dark eroticism going for it that the film did, which in all fairness could be partly because there's no motion. But they still could have achieved a sense of dangerous sexuality without the benefit of movement. And besides, it's not like this ad is actually selling you a product anyway, so she really didn't have to be wearing anything at all. The image would have been better had she not been. I think what's frustrating me is that I can totally see what could have been, and the fact that it's not is driving me crazy.