If the HBO series Game of Thrones and the video game Assasin’s Creed got together on a fashion collection, it would look a lot like Sarah Burton’s spring/summer vision for Alexander McQueen. Steeped in Victorian references surrounded by pagan mysticism and the aesthetics of Britain’s West Country, there is to some degree a sense that these clothes are not meant for real people. We are not worthy. Surely one has to be on possession of some form of special power or highly sought after skill before putting on a wardrobe such as this.
Oh, wait, if one can afford this wardrobe one probably has some highly sought after skills. Sorcery by any other name …
Burton plays as strongly into legend as she does fashion fact. Her set was designed to resemble the standing stones of Avebury—a giant rabbit hole of history and mythology if one cares to chase it. A Henge that dramatically predates that other one, archeologists and historians can only guess at how the stones got here or why they are here in the first place, but pagan legends associate tremendous power and energy with this place. Burton brought back some of that power with her and infused it into a collection that has no weak points. This is all about life, about dominance, and taking control.
Burton said of the collection: “It’s about sisterhood, about women’s milestones and rituals: birth, christenings, weddings, funerals. It’s about being strong and emotional, but also staying it’s okay to show your vulnerability; not to have to put a brave face on it.”
Watching through the collection, one can see the steps, though not necessarily in chronological order. There are the softest laces and linens paired with the kind of heavy leather aprons a blacksmith or butcher might use. There are leather corsetting and bustiers along with ruffled shirts and high Victorian collars. A broderie anglaise cotton blouse hinted at a christening and then a beaded jacket with a canvas corset back brought to mind the road-weary travelers who brought tales of magic from among the marshes. There is a contemporary reference to hoop skirts at one point but also dramatically tailored suits that mean business.
Here are a few samples from the collection.
Be aware that these are not costumes to wear to the local Renaissance Faire. There are no direct copies of Victorian fashion. What Burton has done is take the strong points and use them as references in a collection that is totally modern. These women are not subjugated to anyone. They are strong, independent, and completely in charge of their lives and everything happening around them. When one notices the embellished pointed toe on much of the footwear, one understands that these women mean business are do not suffer fools.
One might be tempted to question all the tailoring Burton puts into this collection but the numbers show that is exactly what the McQueen woman wants at this particular moment. Burton is careful to hold tight reigns on the conceptualization of her sources so that they don’t overwhelm the more commercial aspects. While there might be some minor nip and tucking going on, most of these pieces are ready to wear right now.
Be sure, there are plenty of women ready to wear them.