Bold & Heroic

VOGUE/AFP – “What do you talk about in a time when there’s so much noise?” queried Sarah Burton during final fittings on the eve of presenting Alexander McQueen fall. “I wanted this collection to be really grounded, bold, and heroic,” she answered herself. “I feel like you need to be heroic.”

She worked on sharp-seamed, graphic tailoring that incorporated upcycled wool flannels from previous McQueen seasons woven in British mills and set in dramatic geometric blocks that suggested flags or heraldic pennants. The Victorian tailor’s startlingly contemporary imagery was reflected in prints and complex intarsia treatments.

There were further Welsh inspirations in the form of the strident red used in the national costume, a colour signifying protection, healing, and power. On the runway the girls’ hair, swathed round the head as tight as swimming caps, was ignited with strips of that powerful red used in the clothing.

The McQueen warrior women marched in sharply tailored frock coats and slim-leg pantsuits gripped by belts jangled with jewels that included tiny silver hip flasks and metal-bound notebooks; dresses that resembled leather blankets draped like tartan shawls over fitted cuirass bodices; and a finale of fairy-tale “bird’s nest” evening dresses of frothing net and embroidery suggestive of medieval folk tales: powerful romance.