The beauty of the human physique is muse for McQueen’s Sarah Burton
By Harriet Quick
“Human anatomy, the anatomy of clothing, the anatomy of flowers. An exploration of beauty and power through tailoring and tailoring fabrics and a focus on cut, proportion, and silhouette. The foundations of fashion, cut on the body and inspired by the body within,” says Sarah Burton of the impulses behind the fall collection, one of the standouts of now.
Ever since Lee McQueen showcased bumsters in his early collection, the way pyrotechnic cuts and silhouettes can alter and amplify the human body has been at the core of the McQueen world. But right now, as we switch from a season of veiled sheath dresses and uniform looks, the miracle of the human body from the skeleton to muscles, joints and skin is under the gaze. For Burton, that translates as laced corseted jumpsuits in black barathea, bustier dresses with slashed skirts and upside-down tailored jackets and leather pencil dresses with asymmetric neckline and bugle beaded dresses with deconstructed cut out details that might have been made by an expert surgeon. The latter was swiftly adopted by long standing muse, Naomi Campbell.
The extreme hourglass silhouettes (here’s where to find an impeccable black trouser suit); sumptuous fabrics, colours (black, ruby red, rich purple) and orchid inspired sculpted embellishments and jewellery make for a bold quintessentially McQueen line up. “It feels smart in the times we live in; you want to feel put together and strong against such chaos,” Burton says, intuiting our desire to streamline our appearances. Admire the quilted Seal Bag with its art nouveau hardware clasp and chain handle that takes its decorative cue from the Tudor Rose. In the oversubscribed bag market, the Seal (in two sizes) has all the hallmarks of a new classic.
That Sarah Burton will be leaving the house (after 26 years) to pursue her own dreams and schemes after Paris’ SS 24 runway finale, making this penultimate collection all the more poignant. Burton goes about her work with a humility that is rare and a deep respect for the artisans and experts that make up the McQueen world. Through sponsorship, scholarships, and education, she has made sure to nurture future generations of fashion creatives. “I want to thank Alexander McQueen, he taught me so much and I am eternally grateful to him,” says Burton who has the extraordinary knack of being able to dress rock and pop royalty, first ladies, princesses, and rebels alike with equal rigour and tenderness.