Alexander McQueen Spring-Summer 2014 RTW Fashion Show

So, Sarah Burton’s back in the saddle. That’s rather an awful pun, alluding to the fact that she’s back from maternity leave, and that she showed her spring collection in the Parisian cavalry headquarters of the French Garde Républicaine. But let’s rein that remark back in. The scenario Burton planned out for the season wasn’t horsey at all, but concentrated on a cultural merge of African and early-twentieth-century art, deftly cross-referenced with nineties McQueen street style. This is the point where an outbreak of accordion-pleating can simultaneously read as a punk-kilt, a hip-wrap worn by some non-specific African tribe, and a ladylike, swingy skirt.

First thing to say: The work in these clothes is so intensely elaborate—from the textiles, which looked like checkered tweed but are actually formed from feathers and beads, down to the minutely lacy cropped leggings smothered with even more minuscule beading—that the full impact of its stunning quality can hardly be appreciated from even a few steps away. “It was about getting back to the love of making clothes, really,” said Burton.

Drawing comparisons between tribal dressing and graphics inspired by Mondrian and Picasso and metal helmets reminiscent of Futurist sculpture isn’t really such a far-fetched trope when you remember that the first breakthroughs in Modernism happened when artists in Paris started drawing from African art at the beginning of the last century. Josephine Baker, the It girl dancer of the twenties would have looked brilliant performing in a Paris nightclub in any one of the ostrich-feathered or horse-hair fringed dresses Burton sent out. (And yet why the casting didn’t include more black girls is still the recurring question which hangs over this entire season.)

Although it was impossible not to be awed by the crafting of surface techniques—the tiers of over-embroidered lattice-work, the fan-pleated skirts inset with beads, the way an appliquéd coat graduated seamlessly from solidity to an aerated hem—it was a relief to see Burton inserting more wearable ideas into her collection, too. Crocodile harnesses and hard leather jackets may be all very “signature” for McQueen, but in there amongst them, were glimpses—coats, swishy flared skirts, flocked track pants, a pair of summery printed cotton shorts with a matching bra top—of how this collection can translate to daily life. Result: Buyers left the show in an upbeat mood, while stylists added Alexander McQueen to their lists of most-wanted looks for all the magazine shoots which will be spun around the idea of “tribal” next spring.
by Sarah Mower, via: vogue

Photos courtesy of Alexander McQueen

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