Text by Lindsey Kesel
In the tradition of Lee Alexander McQueen, fashion renegade and merchant of mischievous designs that dance with the taboo, the eponymous label debuts The Slash bag from its Spring/Summer 2023 women’s pre-collection through a defiantly different theatrical portal.
Piloted by the House of Alexander McQueen’s creative director Sarah Burton, The Slash bag film takes viewers on a visceral cyperpunk journey to the edge of helter-skelter, incited by the unrelenting cult of technology. Featuring a haunting performance by Kaia Gerber, the film’s apocalyptic vision blurs the lines between science fiction and reality, juxtaposing the dark side of progress with the intrepid nature of beauty and mankind.
McQueen often drew inspiration for his collections from science-fiction and horror genres, supernatural tales, and real-life atrocities—from the Salem witch trials and Jack the Ripper murders, to the alien influences in his final runway show, Plato’s Atlantis, circa 2009. Saluting the founder’s fascination with fright and evil forces, the House’s cinematic showcase of its already coveted Slash bag collection embeds gripping paradoxes to power the narrative of The Slash bag film.
Director Glen Luchford uses spine-tingling techniques—quick-cut CCTV shots, ominous soundscape, surveillance dialogue—in the conception of the film’s futuristic landscape, masterfully tiptoeing the razor-thin line between obedience and anarchy, chaos and order, man and machine. In the first few seconds, an extreme close-up of a single eye—a classic sci-fi/horror device of disorientation—transitions to a radically automated cityscape plagued with flying cars, skyscrapers, and smog. Accompanied by the hollow tip-tapping of her knee-high boot heels, Gerber’s character follows an exterior walkway amid grand columns, then descends a winding staircase into a labyrinth of unmarked corridors. With slicked hair and sartorial elegance, she’s a fresh face amid sterile surroundings. Though she appears stoic and steady at first glance, the slightest glimmer of trepidation betrays her steely eyes. Suspended over her left shoulder, Gerber’s co-star, The Slash bag in deep red, is a vibrant objet d’art in an otherwise barren backdrop—a blade of grass stretching up through cracked concrete.
As Gerber’s manicured hands reach inside to retrieve an access card, the Slash bag’s lambskin façade reveals sharply-cut, symmetrical slash marks, inspired by the House’s sliced and slashed tailoring. In stark contrast to its soft red body (also available in black and white), the bag’s faceted chain metal shoulder strap, and iconic McQueen Knuckle hardware with signature skull motif hand-carved in antique silver and gold, reflect the strength and resilience of the human spirit.
Unfazed by the voices of anonymous watchers instructing her to exit the restricted area, Gerber encounters a row of lifeless humanoid busts suspended on white poles—one of them her mirror image. Her face softens as she leans in and caresses the familiar cheek of her replica. Affection turns to terror, and tears fall—perhaps at the realization that her mortality has become an inconvenience. Suddenly, the clone’s eyes flutter open and our heroine moves to escape, gripping the Slash bag close. The final image of a single, searching eye brings the story to a close, leaving an aura of frenzy and fear in its wake. Whether it strikes you as fantasy or foreshadowing, cautionary tale or cipher of hope, The Slash bag film’s evocative portrayal of technology run amok, and the epic power of art and emotion, is as elegant and imaginative as The Slash bag itself.
New for the Spring/Summer 2023 women’s pre-collection, The Slash bag carries many of the house signatures and features the iconic McQueen Knuckle and skull motif.