Sarah Burton has been subject to the intense scrutiny of the fashion world since she took over as the designer for Alexander McQueen last year. Living up to the legacy of one of fashion’s greatest artists is not an easy task, but if Burton has found it challenging she certainly hasn’t shown it. I’ve been rooting for her the whole time, but I’ve been cautious about overpraising her work so far. However, no one can argue that the woman can’t produce beautiful designs. The latest collection is gorgeous. She made her own creative decisions and built upon iconic McQueen themes, but I’m not sure she took it far enough. Let’s look at the clothes before I get into that issue, though.
Does she have great taste or what? Everything is just so pretty and unbelievably well made. There is the highest level of detail and tailoring exhibited in each look and that is the way to continue McQueen’s legacy. She identified her inspirations as Madame Grés, Gaudí, Gaia, and the sea, focusing on excess. I could write about the Gaudí references for days, so I’m not even going to try to start pointing out specifics, but the shell and barnacle theme is a perfect way to translate the architect’s work. I love the refinement in the cream and gold pieces, especially that structured dress with the incredible details in the cap sleeve and collar (Above Left). The skin-tight fit of the lace and black leather (cut to look like lace) dress is unbelievable and the bondage reference is so McQueen (Above Right). Of course the gowns were stunning. I think my favorite is the gold lace one (Below Left). I’ll throw in a few more favorites below.
My only concern for Sarah Burton is that she is going to be forced to constantly reference a particular McQueen aesthetic for each collection. I’m worried that because she has to continue designing in his name that she won’t be able to do something completely new, which is exactly what Lee McQueen did every season. The one thing that is missing from each collection is the ugly, the little bit of bad taste. Her designs are almost too pretty to really be as innovative and artistic as McQueen. He was always doing something that made his audience uncomfortable, which is one of the things that set him apart. Then again, she is her own person and she should be able to express herself however she wants. There really isn’t anyone better for her job. I’d still love to see what she would do if she had her own label.