Friday, 8 October 2010

Long Live McQueen!

This past Wednesday witnessed both a death and a rebirth. Not necessarily a metaphysical death and rebirth, but an important one nonetheless: the end of Paris fashion week and the first full collection by Sarah Burton, heir to the Alexander McQueen label after the designer committed suicide earlier this year.

Burton had the unenviable task of trying to live up to expectations and presenting her own ideas. The theme of the show was obviously rebirth--from the symbols of the harvest to the butterflies to the recycled, but subtly changed, McQueen silhouettes of old. Each look paid homage to the past but looked forward:

I hate to use the word, but Burton definitely feminized the McQueen silhouette. McQueen was famous for his interest in distorting the human form into a larger, more angular version of itself. In this look, Burton used pleats to add volume but kept the shoulders fairly minimal. She also combined McQueen's love for japonoisme and kaleidoscope prints.

Burton wasn't afraid to poke fun at the past. Here, she capitalizes on McQueen's enduring fascination for the artificial Elizabethan silhouette, as well as the infamous bumsters, which scandalized the fascination world and paved the way for low-rise jeans in the early 2000s.

She also referenced one of Philip Treacy's legendary hats:
 And then gave the show a Mother Goddess feel:

The clothes were beautifully crafted, the design solid, and the message as gorgeous as it was subtle. Still there was something that stopped me from thinking that it was a great collection. Obviously, no one can ever replace Alexander McQueen. Burton has a great advantage: she worked under him for 14 years and clearly has a wealth of knowledge of his visual vocabulary and his craft techniques. But I hope that she won't restrict herself next season and try to operate under the master's shadow. A McQueen show needs much more drama and a slightly more cohesive collection.
 P.S. The Guardian has video and Fashionologie has backstage photos, should you be interested.

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