Creative Director: Sarah Burton

Britain’s most numerous metaphorical bloom is the shrinking violet: A well-reported story here this week asserted that 47% of Britons identify as shy and 10% as very shy. Just in time, then, for Sarah Burton and her talented team at Alexander McQueen to arrange a highly potent wearable botanical remedy for wallflowers everywhere.

The heritage of a name, a legend a founder can be wonderful, or a poisoned chalice. Sarah Burton worked for many years alongside the late Alexander McQueen, but she is not him, but her heart and brain instills each collection with an aesthetic that carries echoes and threads back to him.

Military in sharp red and black, the wild landscapes of the British Isles, the beauty of decay, a touch of punk, and above all a respect for tradition but a desire to subvert it, or twist it, into new questioning forms.

© Alexander McQueen

This season all those aspects of the house were clearly in evidence. The chalk striped jacket where the component pieces of the perfectly tailored Savile Row jacket were taken apart and reasssembled in immaculate off kilter propitions, the glorious rose effect sleeve which frayed and disintegrated as we looked at it.

The work with mills in England has produced some sensational fabrics, touching them is a privilege and knowing the McQueen house’s contribution to the heritage of tailoring and tradtion is inspiring.

© Alexander McQueen

“I went home for this collection, back to where I grew up in the North of England, surrounded by mill towns and wild countryside. I took my team to those mills, to a landscape that I remember from my childhood. The heart of the collection is inspired by the bolts of cloth we saw woven both by man and machine.”

© Alexander McQueen

Pleated spiralling taffeta ruffles in couture perfection scissored raw at the edges and interspersed with loops of tiny corset hooks on silken cords.

A black tailored jacket covered with thirty different types of buttons,  dozens of them held and pierced by myriad sized and metallic coloured safety pins. The flounced and ruffled ivory white lace skirt which on close examination turned out to be filigree knitting, or the broad red taffeta stripe slicing down the side of a pair of black trousers. The evening dress which was inspired the northern love of ballroom dancing featured embroidery of dozens of pairs of glittering earrings, much favoured by those dancers, however closer examination showed the base for the embroidery to be a couture version of a string vest as a simple sleeveless side split tunic, and matching down the centre, between all the pairs was one row of single earrings to muddle the final symmetry.

Sarah Burton understands exactly what she is doing each season as she herself subverts the heritage of the house, whilst never leaving it far behind, a most sensational example of successfully walking the fashion high wire.

© Alexander McQueen