This may be the most difficult review I’ve written all season. McQueen has never been one of those lines that translated well to Midwestern sensibilities and this spring/summer collection is certainly no exception. Trying to wrap my head around exactly what Sarah Burton is trying to achieve has been … challenging. So, I tried putting myself in her head. If you’ll remember, she was so painfully pregnant last season that she was unable to do a full show, opting instead for a couple of very private presentations. Her twins, yes twins, are now eight months old. While she looked happy when she came out for that bow, anyone who has been there saw the exhaustion in her face. She hasn’t been sleeping a whole lot.
What has Burton been doing while up with the little ones? My guess is maybe going through past issues of National Geographic. She says that this collection isn’t linked to any one theme or meme, and that seems obvious upon viewing. Rather, it’s like turning page after page of a clash of cultures, from Celtic to African to Aboriginal, and then a big jump to some sort of recycled future. Actually, perhaps its more like letting the little ones take hold of the pages. Cultures clash, a piece gets wrinkled, and … that may be a spot of spit-up there.
What stands out about this collection? The first thing one probably notices are the gold and silver hats on every look. Then, there’s the ostrich feathers. We’ve certainly not seen a lot of those this season, but there were plenty of elements we have: leather bras and harnesses not terribly unlike Prada, laser-cut skirts over calf-length pants, intricate bead work, and let’s not forget the checks – lots and lots and lots of checks. Wait, there are still more checks coming in the door.
The collection makes that futuristic jump when it gets to where evening wear should be. Sarah said she didn’t want to do the traditional gown. Instead, she gives us long dresses that appear to be made of recycled plastic; specifically, the wildlife-choke-hazards that hold six-packs of cans together, done in a rainbow of colors. The effect really is quite stunning.
Typically, what we see on a McQueen runway and what actually hits the stores aren’t quite the same, and I would imagine this collection will get a similar treatment to bring it into retail sensibility. One definitely gets the sense, however, that Burton has wiped the table clean and started fresh. She’s going in a new direction; if you’re smart you’ll grab your backpack and follow. You know this is going to be exciting.