'The journey of women and the journey of a woman’ reads the referential opening line of Sarah Burton’s notes for the Alexander McQueen show. Topically poignant when you think about it. Not just because it’s been a disastrously disappointing week for equality, but because Burton’s journey as creative director of the house has not been an easy one. I read ‘the journey of a woman’ to be Burton’s journey to the top. And this was the absolute tops. All the best of Burton with splendid nods to Lee McQueen.
References to typical British clans, landscapes and traditions, akin to McQueen’s 'Highland Rape' or the 'Widows of Culloden', were prevalent throughout. Burton had been looking to the likes of sacred sites, the West Country and wild marshes. Iris and crimson poppy florals on armour-like bustiers felt both Joan of Arc and country-side belle, leather harnesses (much like McQueen's from 2002) harked of old-time milkmaids and slick, gelled and plaited hair - some with dreadlocks - called to mind druid, pagan worshippers.
Stonehenge sirens stomped in piercing silver heels and mullet-cut flowing leather atop soft yellow ruffles, sheers and laser-cut trim - a typically Burton combination that shone with empowerment and strength. As too, did the dark romanticism of McQueen's 'Dante' collection, which appeared in high-neck leathers and slightly puffed shoulder.
Scoops of stomach and back were exposed on kick flare trouser suiting and as models passed, one caught sight of a modern-day McQueen bumster, which quite frankly was an absolute delight to behold. Models from both the golden days and of-the-now walked - Lara Stone, Gemma Ward, Adut Akech - and were emblematic of the dualities at play.
Lee McQueen was fiercely proud of his heritage, and this strong, medieval beauty of a collection shows that Burton is too. I'm not particularly patriotic, but this collection genuinely made me feel proud, not only to be British but to be a woman. That's true McQueen power and Burton excellence.