Designers this season seem to be preoccupied with dimension. While Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons took two-dimensional design to the extreme, Sarah Burton, successor to Alexander McQueen, made her case for the third dimension. At the Salle Wagram, where Alexander McQueen staged his emotional, notorious dance-marathon collection, Burton chose to stage a different kind of dance.
Alexander McQueen drew frequently from nature—both the dark and the light—for inspiration. Ultimately, he took a romantic view of darkness and man’s conflict with nature, a belief that man’s abuse of his environment would lead to a reversal of the evolutionary process. He took this notion to its darkest of conclusions, but it was his obsession with futurism—a dark, ominous future—expressed through his magnificent hand that made the work so beautiful and arresting.
Although she explores some of the same themes, Sarah Burton has won kudos for bringing a softer touch to the label. Her outcome is quite different, a lighter and more optimistic future. “It’s futurism with softness, not cold futurism. It’s looking forward in a positive way,” she stated at her preview.
For fall, this energy and femininity was particularly evident in a series of long-haired fur and marabou feather dresses that fluttered across the room in shades of light mauve to the dustiest of pale pinks. Broad, silver belts were consumed by the extreme volume of feathers, save for the large beaten-metal buckles. Besides dresses, there were coats and capes of ruffled white brocade with fur collars that stood high, wrapping around the models’ long necks.
The silhouette was short, drop-waisted, fluted or bell-shaped, finishing high above the knee. They were accompanied by long fur boots with cantilevered heels sure to be a hit with Daphne Guinness. Silver, mirrored visors were a more futuristic replacement for last season’s intricate face masks. The final dresses were like nature at its best, inexplicably intricate and in in full, ripe bloom.
Drawn to the light, Burton presented a collection as complex, expertly crafted and three-dimensional as those of her mentor and predecessor.