Alexander McQueen: The dark glory of the North of England
A return to the roots, though those of Sarah Burton and not Alexander McQueen, in an outstanding collection from the lady designer, with a sumptuous assemblage of tailoring, fantasy, couture, tough chic and a little bit of magic.
Burton took her team back to her hometown in the North of England for inspiration, and also to tap into the local mills, with names like William Halstead, John Foster, Bower Roebuck, Savile Clifford and Joshua Ellis. The result was the most inventive tailoring seen anywhere this season: complex, multi-pinstripe mixes used in mannish City of London suits; remarkable strict jackets from which flared pleated mini trains; and posh punk houndstooth suits.
Her first looks set the agenda: two imaginatively cut tails, worn without shirts, with pleated sashes dangling from one side. Classy yet punchy, since they were anchored with McQueen bovver boots, whether with contrasting red laces, or covered in dense clusters of silver studs.
"McQueen is always about tailoring. Lee [Alexander] worked on Savile Row. It’s how we started. That’s the backbone of what we wear; but being both masculine and feminine at the same time," explained creative director Burton.
For chilly northern nights, army great coats – policeman blue up top, declining to large plaid at the knees. Everything just a tad off kilter, and all the more beautiful for that.
"I took my team back to the mill towns and wild country where I come from, in the Derbyshire foothills. So this is the juxtaposition of two worlds, the reality of cities versus the beauty of nature," added an emotional Burton backstage.
The fabrication and fabrics were consummately British, as was the setting. Though staged in one of Paris' top high schools – Lycée Carnot – guests sat on huge, and comfortable, bolts of woolen and worsted materials.
Plus the accessories were brilliant; a half-dozen hoop ear loops worthy of a Maasai, metallic chokers, chain mash bandoleers and harnesses, abstract glass bauble necklaces.
And then for her finale, Burton went into overdrive with a dazzling jewel-encrusted Valkyrie dress that looked like it was organically sprouting chain, beads and crystals. Before some remarkable duchesse satin volume gowns, scrunched and ruched up into giant fabric roses: one in red, the next white.
"It’s the War of the Roses. That’s where I am from," giggled Burton, showered in compliments, and standing before the most beautiful mood board imaginable. Practically a work of art in itself.
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