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Sarah Burton's Final Bow at Alexander McQueen

Carwyn Mcintyre

During her 27 year tenure at Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton was dedicated to preserving Lee McQueen’s unique vision and legacy and charting a clear path for its future.

In her final collection, she distilled the brand’s uncompromising vision with a cohesive body of work that paid homage to McQueen's status as the enfant terribles of the fashion circuit.

Burton and her team employed plenty of the house’s familiar codes: the use of Victorian filigree patterns, floral motifs, surface embellishment and the ever-precise tailoring that has touches of couture glamour. The first quarter of the collection echoed the silhouettes that once empowered a spirited 26-year-old McQueen to approach the head of the master’s degree course at Central Saint Martin’s, offering his services as a tutor.

Sharp, exaggerated shoulders and nipped-in waists were best showcased in looks five and six. These gave way to later looks where jacket fronts were cut away to reveal shaped leather armour. While Burton name-checked Elizabeth I and artist Magdalena Abakanowicz as references, these structural qualities lend comparisons to Boudicca or Joan of Arc—who McQueen muse, Isabella Blow, famously dressed as (complete with a trailing pewter train) to attend a dinner with Karl Lagerfeld.  It is these mythic narratives that drive the female-centric ideals that have always been at the core of Burton's aesthetic.

The central part of the collection features traced embellishments. These were first introduced as splices of vermillion across a jacket and then as whole garments covered in a surface treatment. In one dress that mines the macabre, an anatomical drawing is replicated in fringing. Flocked, stamped filigree patterns emerge as body suits and down the front of a jacket and dress.

Naomi Campbell brought the runway to a close, dressed in a silver corset-style tunic with a skirt that moved in the form of looped fringing. As Campbell walked the runway, she shed a tear for what was a poignantly romantic end to Burton’s deft guidance and unwavering vision.

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SEE ISSUE #06 HERE. The theme for this issue, Revelations, delves into the unfiltered aspects of life. It’s an appreciation and exploration of raw beauty, where authenticity reigns supreme; the unconventional is not just accepted but celebrated. In a world of manufactured perfection, this issue chooses to validate our quirks and idiosyncrasies. After all, they are what make us inimitable.

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