The “Savage Beauty” of Alexander McQueen was carried forward after the designer’s passing by his successor Sarah Burton, who whipped up creations that supported her own sense of beautiful menace. Jewel-encrusted masks, binding corsetry, and metal-cage skirts define the Burton era, but Spring/Summer 2016 brought about seismic change. With Renaissance romanticism deeply entrenched in corresponding historical folklore, Burton presented a collection so poetic it may leave a tear in your eye.
Alexander McQueen revealed a sense of fantasy and history that was not only timely, but devastatingly beautiful as well.
Her touchpoint was the Huguenots and their flight from France to London. In escape from the repressive edicts of King Louis XIV, the Huguenots sought refuge in surrounding European countries, and brought with them tremendous silk-weaving expertise – thereby transforming the Spitalfields area of London where they settled into “Weaver’s Town”. By boosting the textile industry with their skilled silk weaving, the Huguenot refugees affected the fashions of the British elite and forever changed the course of fashion history in the country. It was a particularly timely message to transmit given the current refugee crisis. Additionally, Burton wove a historical narrative that elucidated the intrinsic bond her London-based brand has with the city in which it presents its runway shows. From France to England and back to France we go.
To launch the sea-change in direction, crumpled, textured gowns trimmed with fringe led the show, while others featured rows of ruffles sculpting bodily dimensions atop nude sheer fabric. Romantic, flower-embroidered Juliet gowns acted as a reminder of the Huguenot families who came to England with little more than seeds in their pockets so that they could plant gardens in their new, foreign homes. Old-fashioned romance was tempered by modern touches, especially in the case of open-faced long jackets, which were tented to reveal an impressive arrangement of body jewelry beneath, embellished denim court jackets, and nomadic separates dripping in an eye-popping network of braided chain fringe and gleaming silver embellishment.
True to form, every look was a show stopper that blossomed with couture-level details (like corset-braided surfaces, full crochet gowns, frocks made from disintegrating ruffles, and more), but with a sense of softness built into the silhouette that McQueen clothing hasn’t possessed in ages. Burton’s finale went down like gangbusters, with a series of stunning lace gowns, where the contrast of black and white lace was used to mesmerizing effect atop a transparent gown decorated with a depiction of pheasants in flight, stitched diagonally across the bodice. Other gowns ended in a flou of marabou, patterned by an awe-inspired tapestry of crochet, buttons, and lace.
Lee McQueen was the Orpheus of his time, knitting together history and mythology with the thread of fashion, and Burton continues to weave on the same loom. This season, her sense of fantasy and history was not only timely, but devastatingly beautiful as well.
Photos: Courtesy of Imaxtree