Celtic Mysticism Informs Alexander McQueen’s Fall/Winter 2017 Collection

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Like her predecessor, Sarah Burton decided to focus on a theme close to her heart.

The late Alexander McQueen’s Scottish heritage is laced throughout his fashion legacy, with collections that pay homage to the Isle of Skye where his lineage derives. Other themes have ranged from the Black Death, which took some of his family members, and a clash between Highland clans to a battle between England and Scotland called ‘The Widows of Culloden’.

Like her predecessor, Sarah Burton decided to focus on a theme close to her heart and centered her Fall/Winter 2017 collection on the ancient Celtic traditions of Cornwall, where she spent time during her childhood. Weaving Celtic mysticism into her collection brought Burton’s medieval reference points home, but even she couldn’t resist the urge to create a fine suit or two for the Alexander McQueen woman.

Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2017
Photo: Courtesy of WGSN

Sarah Burton centered her Fall/Winter 2017 collection on the ancient Celtic traditions of Cornwall, where she spent time during her childhood.

The medieval theme didn’t emerge in an obvious way at the beginning of the show, as leather separates and dresses embroidered with exaggerated topstitch details came out first. However, it slowly developed over the course of the show, starting with covered-up patchwork dresses followed by the appearance of stitching that was borrowed from medieval needlepoint tapestries. Unfinished hems and trailing threads also supported the theme, influenced by Celtic pilgrimages to Clootie groves where strips of fabric were tied to the trees as part of a healing ritual.

Tough leather jackets trimmed with bright pops of red fur or decorated with perforated details and pinprick studs fell on the “warrior” side of the theme, as Celtics often entered battle wearing only animal skins and without weapons or shields to protect them.

This lavish reinterpretation showed Burton’s devotion to a theme, but it also offered plenty of chances for the McQueen atelier to show off its talents. A superb ending of red carpet-ready gowns especially reinforced the extraordinary craftsmanship of this collection, with “naked” gowns that dripped bespoke lace, embellishment, and feathers.

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