Archive for ‘Sarah Burton’

January 23, 2013

Alexander McQueen Fall 2012

Alexander McQueen Fall 2012 29 detailAlexander McQueen Fall 2012 22 detailAlexander McQueen Fall 2012 30 detailAlexander McQueen Fall 2012 26 detail


“A kind of soft futurism. Not cold and structured, but optimistic and forward-looking.” – Sarah Burton

Sarah Burton just totally went to town with volume and feathers.  And I love it.  This collection is fabulously–crazily–dramatic.  Soft exploding tiers of organza, chiffon, and feathers are paired with futuristic visors and slick platinum blond wigs.  All with heel-less ankle boots made to match.  Nothing practical here, but man, what a delightful spectacle.  The movement of the pieces is glorious to watch as a 3-D petaled concoctions float by.  Absolutely riveting.  Moreover, I love the continuation of the theme from Spring 2012.  Voluminous scalloped waves call to mind the inside of an oyster surrounding a shiny pearl (or metallic bud in this case).

Burton is fantastic at introducing a beautiful femininity to McQueen’s legacy.  She has a remarkable ability to infuse drama with light.  I highly doubt that anyone but the house of Alexander McQueen could pull off a collection quite like this and make me like it nearly as much.  Showmanship and exquisite craftsmanship all rolled into one with this presentation full of lovely frothy blooms.  Utter insanity, but one I can definitely get behind.

Oh, and the set (as always) is lovely.  I adore the eclectic chandelier of naked lightbulbs.  Quirky, exposed, and excellently executed.  Something quite characteristic of a Alexander McQueen show.

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July 13, 2012

McQ Fall 2012


Sarah Burton reconciles McQ affordability with Alexander McQueen sense of grandeur for McQ’s first ever runway show. McQ imparts many of the elements associated with the Alexander McQueen aesthetic, imbuing a dark sense of glamour and romance to the Fall 2012 collection. I love the idea of being able to find beautiful clothes at any price point, and Burton’s autumnal vision certainly reinforces that idea. In fact, this presentation felt a bit magical as it opened with a fanciful bed of autumn leaves–something hard to come by in the middle of spring. The silhouette is dramatically sculpted from luxurious lamb wool and decadent velvet. Masterful tailoring is on display in the gorgeous military styled outerwear, whereas evening gowns entrance with their Edwardian charm.  Sarah Burton gets us ready for autumn while Kristen McMenamy leads us on a whimsical journey through crinkling leaves for a show stopping finale.

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February 4, 2012

Alexander McQueen Spring 2012



[Note: Long overdue I know. I love how I get to this about 5 days before the fall shows start up]

“I was thinking about a woman as an object of desire. We go to such lengths to adorn ourselves that we almost become our clothes or are taken over by them. This is a collection about excess – an exploration of ideals of beauty at their most extreme.” -Sarah Burton

It has certainly been a while since I’ve watched the Spring shows, but one never has to worry about feeling uninspired with the house of Alexander McQueen.  Their pieces are always exquisite.  But I digress.

It has been quite a remarkable year for Sarah Burton.  While many know her name thanks to a certain newly-minted Royal, Burton is carrying on the legacy of Lee McQueen with startling strength and romance.  She has softened up the McQueen aesthetic while still maintaining that fantastical couture element to it; Spring 2012 is full of dramatic flounces and exquisite detail.  In a lot of ways, she has brought back the feeling of classic McQueen with her under-the-sea vision of romantic, futuristic warriors.  For this is certainly not a collection for the faint of heart.  Elaborate face masks and S&M details dominate a runway punctuated with vibrant coral and shocks of black.

This season, Alexander McQueen has provided us with a dose of fetish decadence.  There is a delightful sense of drama and sensuality in this that I was immediately drawn too.   Sarah Burton effortlessly blends glamorous grandeur with sensual seduction, providing looks that are both fiercely confident and innately feminine.  Personally, I found the laced ribbon winding up the model’s legs to be particularly sexy (looks 19-21) and loved the addition of the lace headgear partially obscuring the her eyes.

Moreover, every look is intensely corsetted and strictly controlled with bedecked bodices of seashell and coral reef acting like gilted armor.  While such a strictly controlled silhouette has the danger of coming across stiff and overly conceptual, the technique of Burton and the McQueen atelier allows for great fluidity.  There is a beautiful movement to the fabric with the frothy flounces and tiers fluttering about the model for dramatic impact.  And there is certainly plenty of whimsy to complement the stately structure.  Romantic babydoll dresses and ruffled peplums help balance out the fiercely tailored looks, all accentuated with a dreamy spring palette.   Yet, even the more whisical pieces don’t feel trite.  I love how Burton has crafted together a collection that manages to be elegant, imaginative, and playful all in one.

Sarah Burton is capable of translating her inspiration into reality in a most astonishing manner.   In this case, an oceanic theme and imparted McQueen history have been crafted together to present a fantastically modern and relevant showing.  The details are impeccable.  Metallic and speckled gowns truly appeared composed of a seabed of shells while intricately patterned pearl and coral cut-outs decorated sea goddesses.   The effect of the skirt (in look 29) as Iris walked by left me absolutely breathless.  In fact, this entire show leaves one rather breathless.  The work and technique of the McQueen house are truly incredible.  I don’t believe that any other atelier would have been able to pull this off with this much conviction.  And that puts Sarah Burton (and with her, the legacy of Alexander McQueen) in a class of her own.

Watch the show here.

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April 25, 2011

Alexander the Great


Coco Rocha, Caroline Trentini, Stella Tennant, Karlie Kloss, Karen Elson, and Raquel Zimmerman by Steven Meisel for Vogue US May 2011

Oh Lee McQueen…you are still very dearly missed.  The industry is still dealing with the loss of the creative genius.  Although, Sarah Burton is very nicely carrying on in his stead.  In Vogue‘s May issue, Meisel profiles pieces from the Costume Institute’s tribute to Alexander McQueen’s legacy, aptly titled “Savage Beauty.”  And what a savage beauty Lee’s work was.  His work has intrigued me, awed me, confused me, provoked me, and above all, moved me.  Even when I disliked what I saw, I could not deny his incredible design technique.  I still recall that 1999 opening where Shalom Harlow was on a turntable, wearing a white dress, and being paint splattered by two robots.  It was creepy yet thrilling, fantastical and provocative; I was riveted by the performance.  Now that he is gone, his legacy is in his work left behind.  And in the people he influenced.  Sarah Burton is fantastic technician because his tutelage, and she carries on that technique and vision today.

Meisel has stayed true in this editorial.  I love how he has propped this set; it’s quirky and perhaps a little out-of-sorts which suits the mad genius of McQueen.  Moreover, the pieces Grace Coddington chose, on top of being beautifully wrought, each has a story.  They are striking, weird, magical, and romantic at times.  I love it.  Check the Vogue article for  the fully story [although the site coding is a little hard to read so I’ve posted it here as well].  Here’s what Sarah Burton has to say about each [in order]:

  • Widows of Culloden, Fall 2006: “The collection was about the 1745 massacre of the Scottish Jacobites by the English, which Lee felt so passionately about because of his Scottish family heritage, which his mother had researched. The women were the widows of the slaughtered army. This dress was actually based on my wedding dress—I got married two years earlier. We had to figure out how to make lace work in the round with those ruffles because Lee hated gathering. So we cut out all of the flowers from the lace and reappliquéd it on tulle to make our own fabric. This is the collection most people remember as the one with Kate Moss in a hologram. Oh, my God, it was so beautiful. He loved that show.”
  • Voss, Spring 2001:  “So much of this show was about the collective madness of the world. It was presented in a two-way mirrored glass box in London, and the girls had bandaged heads, acting like inmates of a mental asylum. Lee wanted the top of this dress to be made from surgical slides used for hospital specimens, which we found in a medical-supply shop on Wigmore Street. Then we hand-painted them red, drilled holes in each one, and sewed them on so they looked like paillettes. We hand-painted white ostrich feathers and dip-dyed each one to layer in the skirt.”
  • Number 13, Spring 1999: “This was from the amazing show in London where Shalom Harlow stood on a turntable and was spray-painted by robots. This particular look was made from wood to form the shape of a fan: It was all about the craftsmanship. The wooden wings were in this show, too, and the prosthetic legs he had carved for Aimee Mullins, who walked in the show. That was so moving. There were so many ideas in there. Each of his shows was like ten of anyone else’s.”
  • Sarabande, Spring 2007: “The collection was based on Handel’s ‘Sarabande’ in the film Barry Lyndon. It was held in the round at the Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione in Paris, with classical musicians playing onstage under a giant chandelier. This dress had fresh flowers on it. We put them on just before she went out, and they started to fall off one by one as she walked. I remember people saying Lee timed it. We had a laugh about that. It was an accident!”
  • It’s Only a Game, Spring 2005: “All the girls were dressed as chess pieces, and the show was choreographed as a chess game. It was about the chessboard of fashion. Lee did have foresight and a sense of humor! This is one of the two horse pieces. He made it by commissioning Steve Powell, a hospital prosthetics expert, to make the body. And the horsetails were from the same suppliers who make the plumes for the queen’s Royal Horse Guards.”
  • Voss, Spring 2001: “This is a straitjacket, a kimono with the sleeves strapped around the back, embroidered with raised birds and flowers, and the flowers on the hat were real. I saved all the showpieces from every collection because I’m an obsessive, obsessive hoarder. Sometimes Lee would look at them again, just to remember what he’d done with something. It was his dictionary he was building, really.”

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March 21, 2011

Alexander McQueen Fall 2011


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.

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October 9, 2010

Alexander McQueen Spring 2011


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.

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