Oh this collection was glorious. It is hard to believe that this is only Sarah Burton’s second collection. When I first perused this collection (haha silly me. As I could ever peruse McQueen casually) oh so very long ago (two weeks is rather ancient), I literally had a flailing conniption fit. I will strive to maintain a more composed reaction here.
I just love the way Sarah approached this collection. And the way she put it was so excellent: “I was thinking about an ice queen. Someone strong and noble and romantically powerful.” Indeed. This collection most certainly reflects that sentiment. Moreover, Burton adds this softness to the collection without losing any of that strength. I love how she adheres so strongly to Lee McQueen’s vision; yet, the subtly is all hers. She softly but distinctly transforms the McQueen house into her own.
This is only her second collection after the tragic loss of Lee, but it appears that she is very much influenced by the season’s elements. Last October, she had crafted this pagan spring/summer fantasy full of corn-husk bodices, peacock feathered full-bodied skirts, and fiery lit prints for Spring 2011. Now, she introduces the Gothic ice queen along with bondage harnesses and exposed zippers for Fall/Winter 2011. While the McQueen aesthetic most certainly suits the ice queen concept, Burton did not craft it in a way that I had expected. There are plenty of epically icy gowns and wintery feather creations, but she embeds colorful mosaic tiled bodices, fitted black leather, and strictly tailored tweed sheaths into the collection as well. I love when a designer can both surprise me and thrill me in the process. I sit enraptured as Sarah Burton spins her magic.
There is no question about the exquisiteness of the craftsmanship. McQueen has been renown for the work and detail that it presents from the very beginning; Burton continues that legacy. Not only is Burton’s technique phenomenal, but perhaps even more impressively, the McQueen team had essentially crafted all the fabric in-house. That takes some intense dedication and serious work. And it shows with every snap of the high-def camera. Thanks to technology, the audience can take in the raw edged tulle shaped into a cascading train, the tweed lined with exposed zippers bleed effortlessly into the fox fur, and the medieval crest appliquéd and embroidered onto a bodice. She showcases intricately crafted bodices of broken porcelain and inky feathers, all the while weaving this dramatic fairytale. I always enjoy the fantastical drama of an Alexander McQueen show. Sarah Burton builds it beautifully with a lightness and soft fluidity. Her collections lack a rigid hardness in spite of the bondage harnesses and strict tailoring.
I always look forward to the crazy shoes that McQueen will pull out. This time, there are spikes on heel-less platforms and elaborately laced boots that snaked up the leg. Love the concept of the spike on the back.
Alexander McQueen and Haider Ackermann are definitely battling it out for the best collection of the season for me.