Sarah Burton continues her legacy of beauty and power at Alexander McQueen as the brand gears up for a powerful U.S. expansion.
Deconstructed jacket with exploded sleeves and drape and bodice panels in beetled linen spliced into black wool silk, $5,760, silk peg trousers, $890, No. 13 wedges, $1,090, antique gold asymmetrical garnet earrings, $790, and antique gold garnet pendant, $650
Sarah Burton understands women. Since taking the creative reins at Alexander McQueen in 2010, the designer has ushered the fashion house through a transformation—subtle in its manifestation, yet powerful in its authority. Through this shift, its DNA has been carefully reimagined to function for real women without sacrificing an ounce of the fantasy synonymous with the brand, producing creations that induce dreams, but with feet firmly planted on the ground. That notion was more palpable than ever in Burton’s spring 2020 outing.
“I was interested in clarity and paring things down,” she says. The collection, though, is hardly simple. Rather, it signals a honing of the craft and the intricate narrative behind each piece. This season, an articulated puff-sleeved dress is composed of linen that was laid in the fields of Ireland to be bleached by the sun and moon; a full-skirted dress is a canvas each member of the McQueen team constructed, handstitching its detailed embroidery; and a suit jacket is spliced with beetled linen, a painstaking process of making a garment, painting it with potato starch, hammering it with wooden blocks and then remaking it. It’s these details and the emotions Burton evokes with her designs that make them so extraordinary and rare.
Cocoon-back dress with keyhole detail in cotton silk faille with endangered floral hand embroidery, price upon request, flower heel, price upon request, antique gold asymmetrical garnet earrings, $790, and antique gold pendant, $650
The process of sharing and communicating narratives through design is at the heart of McQueen—so much so that it inspired the newest handbag, fittingly titled the Story shoulder bag. The elongated silhouette of this flap-style purse resembles the shape of a sleek book and can be carried on the shoulder or easily converted into a clutch. Decorated with a polished jewelry-inspired gold handle and matching chain strap, the Story shoulder bag feels equal parts feminine and tough, and it’s easy to envision it propped on the shelves of one of McQueen’s pristine boutiques. In fact, the brand recently opened outposts in Hawaii and Las Vegas and has plans to launch flagships in Miami Design District and New York’s SoHo neighborhood later this year. Pair that with its increased accessory offerings and escalated men’s business, and it’s clear McQueen will soon become a household name in the U.S.—and rightfully so.
Black leather knotted Story shoulder bag, $2,390
“I love the idea of people having the time to make things together, the time to meet and talk together, and the time to reconnect with the world,” says Burton. This is seen particularly in her latest collections, which use upcycled materials from runways past and show the garments on models representative of the world (think a welcome range of ethnicities, ages and sizes). Burton’s practice of principle makes her an undeniable force in fashion.
Photography by: courtesy of Alexander McQueen