Sarah Burton Pulls Off McQueen Without McQueen


Reactions to the first McQueen show mounted since the designer’s suicide have been overwhelmingly positive. saysSarah Burton proved herself a very worthy successor to Alexander McQueen.” Glamour‘s Cindi Leive says she “loved this beautiful, emotional debut.”

The basket-woven hairstyle — a sort of Medieval own-hair snood — certainly showed Burton shares McQueen’s ability to break down our way of seeing by introducing something genuinely new and strange.

I wasn’t so into the midriff-baring looks. To me, they nodded to an impending trend — this season has zipped by in one long, fleshy expanse of exposed model midriff — in a way that Alexander McQueen has always been above.

But I loved the brocades, the flared peplums of the skirts, and the rich, tawny color palette.

Gucci Group president Robert Polet is pleased with Burton’s effort, too. “She does the brand well. She has been working with him for 14 years, so she is a little bit Alexander McQueen. For a first time, I think that’s a thumbs up!”

Overall, Burton hewed very closely to the look established by her predecessor. There were nipped waists, sharply tailored jackets, and all the restrained menace they connote.

Apparently, some of the dresses were made of pheasant feathers.

Burton is in a great position. Her years in McQueen’s employ — she was his director of women’s wear before he died — give her a thorough grounding in the house and its rich aesthetic history. She was privy to McQueen’s influences and thought processes in a way that few others can match. But this collection is thoroughly her own work, and it is magical.

McQueen was famous for his elaborate stagings, including runway shows inspired by the grueling dance marathon in The Shoot Horses, Don’t They and the work of the controversial photographer Joel-Peter Witkin, and one where automotive assembly line robots surrounded Shalom Harlow and sprayed her with blasts of paint.

Although Burton said that she wouldn’t be aiming to compete with her late boss in the show stakes, the mise-en-scène here seems pretty dramatic. There was moss and grass coming up between unfinished boards of the catwalk, and eerie, low cello music was playing.

This stunning dress recalled, for me, McQueen’s iconic gown made out of red glass microscope slides and feathers.

I have to echo SHOWStudio: This collection was stunning.

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