The Church of England has been tearing itself asunder recently over whether to allow women to become bishops (it’s no-go so far), but if it should come to pass in time for pre-fall deliveries, fashion-conscious female clerics ought to flock to Alexander McQueen. Only joking. Yet there’s a flicker of a subversive thrill at the sight of Sarah Burton putting women in clothes inspired by ecclesiastical dress, especially when it comes to something as spectacularly ornate as a lace-covered cape, which looks as if it could do service at high altar.
Sarah Burton, who’s been finishing off this collection in the last weeks before her twins are due to arrive, spoke of researching “the low church, puritans, nuns, and popes” for the collection. She’d had the basement in the McQueen headquarters in London’s Clerkenwell laid out as a showroom, with tables groaning under piles of accessories (stained-glass window jewelry; brass-buckled pilgrim shoes, and boots, dozens of bags) and the racks packed with clothes whose elaborate detailing and stately shapes can at times rival the output of Paris couture houses.
Even though this collection is a mere preamble to fall, its sweep is immense. It starts, calmly enough, with the low-church “day” end: cassock-like black velvet coats with nipped waists and flared laser-cut hems and snowy surplice-inspired cotton shirts and shirtdresses, some with huge double-balloon sleeves. Some of the cotton pique collars are ingeniously studded all around with traditional brass shirt studs—so what might almost be a priest’s dog collar also reads as a punk’s dog collar. A subliminal quip fully in the McQueen tradition of chic wickedness.
The mantle is being held up superbly by Sarah Burton and Co. with this neo-gothic collection.
Burton, who was named creative director of Alexander McQueen in May 2010, has created dresses for high-profile clients such as Michelle Obama, Cate Blanchett, Lady Gaga and Gwyneth Paltrow. Sarah Burton was also responsible for designing the now-iconic wedding dress of Catherine Middleton for her marriage to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.
As you can see, the Alexander McQueen brand continues to deliver rich, alluring, artful fashion with range, which are au courant and simultaneously progressive. It’s all so exciting and tantalizing yet disciplined; something only the McQueen brand can seemingly pull off.
NOTE: The video at the header is for the Paris show for Spring / Summer 2013 collection not the Pre-Fall 2013 collection you see below.