Sarah Burton has done something truly amazing at Alexander McQueen. Not just this season — which she has — but also in facing the daunting task of stepping into the lobster claw tranny heels of one of fashion’s last great visionaries. Sure she worked hand in hand with McQueen since her days as a Central Saint Martins student, but how to respect his legacy at the same time creating a distinct voice of her own?

With each collection, Burton asserts her own aesthetic while subtly referencing past house motifs. This time around, for her collection themed “The Ice Queen and her court,” Burton was inspired by “heritage silhouettes,” and indeed there were echoes of Fall 2009‘s, Spring 2007‘s and Fall 2006‘s (among others) ready-to-wear womens shows.

Though instead of feeling like a re-tread, the gowns that strolled down the runway of Marie Antoinette‘s one-time prison were more of a reinterpretation. This was a softer, more feminine McQueen; breathtaking in its feathery-light construction, but the warrior woman often conjured in past collections was alive and strong through bodices resembling armor and leather straps tied about shoulders.

Marie Antoinette would have lost her head over Burton’s brilliant pieces…and then there’s that other royal who’s rumored to be wearing McQueen for her big day. If there is any British designer and label worthy of such an honor, it is no doubt Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.


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