Combining impeccable tailoring with Victorian designs, Burton’s Alexander McQueen spring/summer 2016 collection looks like the designer herself has been possessed by fairytale heroines, who manage to look utterly feminine, delicate and secure all in one go. “I wanted everything to feel very, very feminine. Powerfully feminine,” she explained the message behind her bedazzling fashion line.
If we had to draw up a list of every fashion designer must-haves accomplishments, working as the creative director of a notorious and innovative brand would surely be one of the first entries, while designing a dress for a real-life princess would be another. There is one designer in particular who managed to check these entries off: Sarah Jane Burton. Named by Time one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012, Burton has been the creative director of Alexander McQueen since 2010, and was the one behind Kate Middleton’s wedding dress in 2011 (has the Royal Couple really been married for over 4 years? How time flies!). Not for nothing, the Duchess of Cambridge is one of Burton’s biggest fans.
Infant prodigy of the fashion industry, Burton began working at the fashion studio of the great Alexander McQueen while she was still in school, enjoying each one of McQueen’s shocking catwalks (and probably learning more that anyone could ever learn from such an eclectic and inscrutable fashion designer).
Sarah was inspired by the 17th-century Huguenot Protestant faith followers that arrived in London fleeing religious persecution in France, creating a collection, which thus mixes both French and British influences in a universe where elegance and attention to details are the most important things. The terms of comparison with the Huguenot do not stop here, as we become aware of both their and Burton’s craftsmanship with silk, which brought respectively the Huguenots to redeem from their previous poor living conditions and Burton to reaffirm once again her undeniable talent as a fashion designer.
For the Alexander McQueen spring/summer collection 2016 she used a pastel color palette, which looked as a fairy version of Britain’s smoky colors. All those whites, blushes and pastel tones made everything look even more feminine and created a great contrast subsequently enhancing the very few black pieces showcased. The collection started off with some long ivory dresses and ruffled knitted maxi skirts, giving Burton a safe place to revisit the Huguenot’s fashion trends in a more contemporary and conceptual way.
Floor-length tulle skirts, lace fabrics and chain embroideries enhance each structured dress, taking one step closer to perfection with all the sculpted ruffled necklines, wherein the embroideries were inspired by Spitalfields, the former parish in East End London where the Huguenots used to live and work (which is also near McQueen’s Clerkenwell HQ. Touching, isn’t it?). Lace fabrics were also used to make some dresses look like they were dissolving in the air, exactly like history dims in everyone’s memory.
Anyways, Burton went further with celebrating contrasts thanks to some rough denim fabrics combined with delicate embroideries, as well as with some other knotted-up military motifs for evening dresses, giving her collection one more reason to be defined as powerfully feminine.
Fringes, strategic cut-outs and layers were the most predominant Burton’s embellishments this time, while it is also extremely interesting to notice how many prints followed the Line of Beauty, also known as the S-shaped curved line, which many artists including the Huguenot believed that made everything look more beautiful. Once again, Burton proves nothing is left to chance when it comes to her personal views on fashion.
Burton’s view of the world, along with her efforts to celebrate such a mournful time of the European history, left her audience in awe, and made it possible to give birth, once again, to the purest form of modern romanticism.
Photos courtesy of Vogue