Could This Be Sarah Burton’s Swan Song at Alexander McQueen?

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If Sarah Burton is to leave Alexander McQueen, we’re not exactly sure how she would top such a fragile and bewitching collection.

There is a rumor circulating the fashion industry that Sarah Burton is leaving Alexander McQueen to take up the Creative Director post at Dior, and if you were to imagine this collection as her swan song, you’d be forced to admit this is the highest point she could possibly leave on. Her impossibly exquisite creations for Fall/Winter 2016 sleep-walked us through a dream world that was filled with symbols, nightmares, and fairytales, and it’s a dream that no one in the audience wanted to wake up from.

Burton’s impossibly exquisite creations for Fall/Winter 2016 sleep-walked us through a dream world that was filled with symbols, nightmares, and fairytales, and it’s a dream that no one in the audience wanted to wake up from.

The first look instantly revealed Burton’s dream theme, as a mannish coat appeared on the runway embroidered with lion statue, moth, and pocket watch appliqués. She repeats the symbol motif often throughout the collection, and they can be taken one of two ways: they are either the vocabulary of dream language where a moth equals transformation, a pocket watch means the passing of time, a pair of lips stands for communication, and a lion statue represents authority, or they are references to past McQueen collections where the moth would represent Spring/Summer 2001’s “Voss” presentation, while the pair of lips are clues from McQueen’s Fall/Winter 2009 collection. As dream communiqués or references to McQueen’s past, they are among one of the more intriguing decorative motifs employed by any designer in recent memory.

Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

Burton continues to stupefy and astound as her dream scenario unfolds. There are nightmares or figures of threat found in bondage-like looks comprised of multi-buckled trousers, form-fitting leather dresses with puffed shoulders, and beautiful corseted bodices. There are ephemeral figments of the imagination found in sparkling tulle skirts, floating cut-out dresses, stunning lace frocks scalloped with embroidery and degraded by laser cut-outs along the skirt, and – best of all – a series of “naked” gowns. These were preternatural creations as precious and fine as spider silk that glinted with gossamer beauty as they floated around the body like fairy lights. Some accrued colorful embroidered appliqués atop their surfaces, while others were decorated with crystal patterns. The final looks took the dream influence more literally, appearing as lavish silk and fur duvets that any sleeping beauty would love to bed down in. If Burton is to leave the brand she so faithfully steered after McQueen’s death, it would be a great loss for his legacy, but if this is her final act, we’re not exactly sure how she would top such a fragile and bewitching collection.

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