#SuzyPFW Alexander McQueen: Primeval Force Of Nature

Giant primeval stones seemed to have rolled over the crunching gravel at the Alexander McQueen show.

The models walked past each bulbous creation, some with swathes of patterned cloth attached.

The Paris setting for the Spring/Summer 2019 collection seemed much like the vast stony moors designer Sarah Burton had clambered over in the rural landscape of England’s West Country. There, you can still find sites of historic pagan rituals amid the yellow primroses and crimson poppies which inspired the bright yellow and red of clothes in the show.

A Sarah Burton collection is like a landscape – always the same yet different in detail. And so it was for this collection when just the names from the countryside photographed by the designer and her team were evocative: Avalon marshes, poppy fields and Glastonbury.

Backstage, the models with their heavy metal jewellery and light lace or floral patterned dresses looked like acolytes from a cult – but beautiful with it. Later, on stage, as they walked from stone to stone, they offered a sisterhood of beauty, mostly in long, split-side dresses, occasionally short skirts or tailoring.

“I always start with a pagan feel – these are women from the poppy fields,” said Sarah, explaining how the show was focused on “birth, marriage, sisterhood, friendship”.

“It’s about all the very important moments of a woman’s life,” the designer continued. “We looked at relics and treasures, mediaeval tabards – things that were installed with feeling and clothes that have emotions.”

At the heart of Burton’s concept is the idea of offering clothes that last – not perhaps to outdistance the mediaeval artifacts she researched, but still long enough to be part of a fashion ‘family’ in the closet. Her work is the antithesis of fast fashion.

But will these McQueen offerings of intense workmanship carry the same spirit? The garments themselves are made different by the craft that produces them, but the concept of clothes with tales to tell is unique to Sarah Burton. I cannot think of any other designer who puts such devotion into the smallest object.

When I pointed out that her philosophy of ready-to-wear with such deep roots seemed more suited to haute couture, she said: “You are completely right – it does look like it could be couture work, there is such attention to detail that I think the clothes are forever.”

Since I loathe the concept of fast fashion – let alone what it does to destroy our planet – I can only admire and applaud Sarah Burton and all that McQueen stands for.