Alexander McQueen A/W 2018

Alexander McQueen A/W 2018

Sarah Burton explores transformations of femininity for autumn

Scene setting: This season, Sarah Burton traded her usual Alexander McQueen show space – the Orangerie at the Jardin du Luxembourg – for the Carreau du Temple, in the Marais. If the guests missed the lovely little stroll among orange trees in the garden, they were instead welcomed by a pristinely white space, with chairs that appeared wrapped in white blankets. Upon closer inspection, these turned out to be Aran sweaters, each covering a chair and combining to create an inviting cocooning effect.

Sound bite: ‘Metamorphosis: the magical transformation of femininity’ was the inspiration behind the collection. Backstage after the show, channelling Lee McQueen, who consistently explored the natural world through his collection, Sarah Burton spoke of ‘extreme nature, the delicate, emergent beauty of butterflies and moths’. Burton put her own stamp on it however, for her it was all about the constant flux of nature the morphing of one creature into another and one garment into another. Most of all, the designer spoke of ‘paradise found’ and a sense of joy, with an optimism that was almost revolutionary during a season viewed by most designers through the dark-tinted lenses of our current political climate. We could definitely use some of Burton’s optimism.

Best in show: The collection opened with a series of black tuxedo variations. ‘Our best-sellers’, confessed Sarah Burton backstage. Alexander McQueen is renowned for a very particular kind of pantsuit, one with clean, organic lines, a super polished finish and usually with large shoulders and skinny trousers. This was no exception. As the show went by, tuxedoes morphed into leather shift dresses, Aran jumpers, mini-cropped puffas in iridescent shades inspired by scarab beetles, and feathered ivory parkas. But Burton saved the best for last: evening gowns took on a life of their own through larger-than-life silk fringes, tux-corset-lace hybrids (a perilous experiment that only this designer could render infinitely appealing) and giant butterfly wings draped in the back of dresses. The finale – two chiffon and feather dresses, one in flamingo pink, the other black – completed the show with a sense of zero gravity. The perfect metaphor for Sarah Burton’s current state of grace.