British fashion label Alexander McQueen has at last arrived in China not with a whimper but with a bang. While the brand is seemingly late to the party – Dior, Gucci, and Celine, after all, dominate the Chinese fashion market – its grand entrance into the country make up for lost time. The first Alexander McQueen store in China opened to the public on October 29. It occupies two stories and more than 4,305 square feet of the luxurious Sanlitun North complex in Beijing. With stores like Versace and Malson Martin Margiela for neighbors, the luxury label is right at home and offering men’s and women’s wear as well as accessories.
“Firstly, we wanted to make an impact,” said Jonathan Akeroyd, Alexander McQueen’s chief executive. “We waited for the right location in Shanghai and now we’ve also got it here [in Beijing]. It wasn’t a big strategy. It’s a special store in the right place. It’s better to wait than to rush in when choosing a location. We like the environment and the mix of brands here in this development. It’s not the obvious luxury names; it’s an eclectic mix. It was a good launchpad for us.”
Members of the Alexander McQueen team met with the media and VIPs at a cocktail party in the new location on October 28. The following evening, over 300 guests viewed the brand’s clothing at Beijing’s 798 art district, a group of former factories turned into dramatic galleries. The designs’ place among art was well deserved: known around the world for the classical-but-conservative dress Kate Middleton wore on her big day, Alexander McQueen celebrated its expansion East with a runway show of bold, colorful styles from the brand’s fall-winter collection. The show lasted barely five minutes but made quite an impact, with top Chinese models Ji Lili, Danni Li, Bonnie Chen and Zhang Xuchao stepping into the footlights.
After the parade of her dramatic creations, creative director Sarah Burton stepped out for a quick wave. “I’m so excited to be here. You can feel the energy, it’s everywhere,” she said backstage. “I’m so impressed with their [the Chinese] sense of style — they’re real risk-takers.”
Perhaps, but China’s fashion conscious also know a good thing when they see it. Even before Alexander McQueen set up shop in Beijing, their name was well respected in luxury circles. Akeroyd hopes the popularity will continue to grow.
“As a brand, we’re also ready now to expand. We have six stores globally, and we’re at a point to launch more. We had no real presence here, and now that we are opening more retail doors, it’s a good place to start in China. Next year we open in Shanghai, Hong Kong late next year and, of course, other stores around the world,” he said.
photo credit: wwd