Sarah Burton brought a little bit of British countryside with her to Paris Fashion week for the Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2018 show. Burton described how she drew on the “healing power of flowers” citing that “most medicine comes from flowers.”
Whilst flowers were the primary inspiration for the collection you are not left sarcastically channelling Miranda Priestly – “Florals? For spring? Ground-breaking.” The show opened with a deconstructed trench coat which, on closer inspection, was embroidered with contrasting ‘grandmother’ floral and gold-gilded brocade floral. The hint of pink ruffles peeking from the bottom of the trench was a hint of what was to come.
The show progressed with frothy frilled dresses that dissolved into nothingness as though they had been worn for years. Dresses exploded off models bodies which made you imagine that they had just run through a wildflower field. Burton took the phrase “she would look good even in a potato sack” literally with looks 33 and 35 in which models were wrapped in a tapestry held together by leather straps with large cross-stitched flowers.
Grandma chic, which has saturated the fashion market since Alessandro Michelle took over the helm of Gucci, is presented in this collection in a very modern and carefully curated way. Mixed gingham ‘picnic cloth’ prints were layered over delicate, sheer florals paired with the perfect chunky knits for brisk English evenings in the countryside.
However, the Spring/Summer 2018 McQueen woman isn’t sitting at home in her dresses waiting to be courted. She is running through the fields in chunky combat boots and waxed leather coats allowing the dew to roll off. The serene florals were juxtaposed in true McQueen style with full leather summer dresses and heavy denim. The idea of “passing things down,” was emphasised by Burton as she exhibited Victorian-esque dresses with tailored, frayed coats layered on top. Leather off-the-shoulder dresses were fastened with harsh metal studs and exposed zips.
In a McQueen show, it’s easy to just see the completed looks, but the real beauty is in the detail. Models hair was strung across their faces as if they’ve been caught in heavy rainfall, completed with a smudged liner under the eyes. Jewelry was added with the care of a young child who has broken into their mother’s jewellery box and thrown on everything they can. Boot heels were stuffed with flowers and pearls. Bag straps were dripping with embellishment. The casting showed excellent versatility, with more curvaceous models highlighting the proportions of the cinched waist dresses.
Sarah Burton created a quintessentially British garden wonderland. The McQueen woman is playful, strong and believes in the importance of heritage.