Twisted Fairy Tale
When Sarah Burton mentioned that her latest collection for Alexander McQueen was, “all about nightime and dreams,” she confirmed what we already knew: that these were clothes from some vivid fantasia. That tension between fairytale and perverse nightmare was often one explored by Lee McQueen during his golden years at the brand, so it seemed a fitting rabbit hole for Burton to jump down.
Good Girl Gone Bad
Things began via a silky black coat printed with, among other things, a butterfly and an Alice in Wonderland pocket watch. That motif continued on to the next look: a sleeveless tuxedo jacket that mutated into a frilly dress at the hemline. Could there be a more fitting emblem for the kind of strong yet fragile femininity Burton is interested in? Still, the slew of ruffled, tiered and sheer dresses that followed stressed the fragile over the strong, and the whimsical over the tough – some racy exposed cleavage aside – with their gauzy girlishness.
All Tied Up
The diaphanous quality to these pieces (some with couture quality detailing and painstakingly rendered intricacies) was starkly juxtaposed with a series of mannishly elegant, long dinner jackets in classic black or white. This being McQueen, a lingering sense of sexual deviance and subversion is never far away. Cue strong shouldered and gloved leather pieces fit for a dominatrix, and satin straps down tuxedo trouser legs that were a little bit bondage and a lot Helmut Lang – conservative tailoring destabilized with sex club-lite detailing is perhaps Lang’s most iconic signature. Gothic dresses with eccentric, Victoriana flavouring came next before it all ended with lavish Fairy Queen ensembles that were festooned with fur and stitched with delicately vulnerable butterflies. At McQueen, Burton reminded us that the prim is never far from the impassioned and that there is terror as well as pleasure in the truly sublime: Lee would be proud.