I can’t figure quite how to start this post. It is difficult to summarize my feelings on Alexander McQueen. For one, there is still the reality of Lee McQueen’s loss. Especially when there was just a very moving funeral during London Fashion Week. But alas, we move on. Jame Joyce seems apt for this occasion: They lived and laughed and loved and left.
Many feared for the fate of Alexander McQueen after the loss of its ubiquitous creator. In an industry that operates under a six months marker, everything is transient. Disassembling what Lee McQueen had created would have been a great travesty, but more importantly who could possibly carry it on with dignity? There are few, if any, who have the vision of Lee McQueen. I am glad that Sarah Burton has stepped in to carry the privilege and burden of continuing McQueen’s work. Being his very first assistant for the past fourteen years would make her, out of anyone, best suited to carry out his legacy. And she has a tight line to walk: respect what Alexander McQueen stands for as well as giving the collection a voice of her own.
Alexander McQueen has always given me a sense of wonder and left me to stare in awe at the magic that is a glamorous Alexander McQueen creation. With uniqueness and precision, he has crafted works of art. He is the master of theatricality and presentation. Moreover, he is an innovator and one of the first to embrace technology in the fashion world. He believed in the future of fashion and projecting his vision to the world. There is no replacement for Lee McQueen. That being said, Sarah Burton has done an admirable job at carrying on his legacy with her own outlook. She handles this collection with poise and reverence, and ultimately with the utmost respect for Lee McQueen.
Burton beautifully sets the tone with bare boards as a walkway that would seem stark except for the shoots of grass peeking out between the cracks. Which reveals her deep understanding of symbolism. This is a new beginning. And very apt for Spring. While this is a very McQueen-style collection, Burton seems to be influenced by ancient pagan English symbolism along with Greek mythology. Mainly, there are references to nature throughout the collection. What really stood out were the wheat-like woven bodices and dresses reminded me of Demeter bringing back spring after the depression of winter when Persephone returns to her. Which hopefully signifies what McQueen’s line will be like under Sarah Burton’s control.
It is not overtly revealed, but Burton infuses McQueen silhouettes with a wearable quality. There is the fantastical element of avant-garde McQueen, but it is melded with practicality. Well…initially at any rate. She opens with a carefully deconstructed fluttering white tailcoat composed of ten layers of silk–each edge hand-frayed. And remains in that territory with black tuxedo vests, elegant skirts, and military belts before free-falling into McQueen romanticism. I heartily approve. Sarah Burton demonstrates that she can create refined wearable clothes without losing any imagination or fantasy.
There are cornhusk dolls and poppies, woven opaque-to-sheer into molded jackets and looped chiffon skirts along with grain-woven gowns; flowing fantastical dresses of silk and chiffon in white and vibrant dyed patterns controlled by an elaborate golden-leaved clasp clamp around the waist; a dress composed of a butterfly pattern complete with butterfly shoes; garlands of flowers wrapped together to create a dress; dramatically dye-dipped gowns that are elaborately rusched together to leave a flowing glamorous train…but Burton’s true design triumph lies in the two closing gowns: feathered perfection. They are everything that any McQueen lover could possibly want from his successor.
It seems apt that I am closing my last remarks on Spring 2011 with Alexander McQueen. While Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu are great fun, I feel Alexander McQueen captures everything I’m feeling about Fashion Month closing better than those two houses do. I hope to leave you with a poignant lasting image of Spring 2011. Alexander McQueen is clearly the best option for that.