For Part One click here.
Sarah Burton’s first collection for S/S 11 saw her pay her respects to her dear former colleague, immortalising his spirit in the clothes and using them as a metaphor for, not only his death, but also for the legacy he left behind and the future for the brand. The collection saw light triumph over darkness, with the images of angels and birds worked into prevailing motifs symbolising the spirit of McQueen soaring free, unrestrained from earthly duties. The collection retained the McQueen focus on form and shape through bodices which highlighted the femininity of the models, but the prints, shapes and materials used reflected nature at its best – when it is least restrained. Burton reused the iconic feather dress concept to create her own take on the beauty and fragility of the female form, but here as with the rest of the collection, she displayed to the world her own aesthetic and in this one collection showed us all her intentions for the future of the brand – McQueen signatures reinvented under new leadership.
Since then we’ve seen a never ending variety from Burton, from the thigh high leather boots and corsetry of her A/W 11-12 to the more bonkers Bee-Keeper theme present in her S/S 13 collection. Thought all 6 of her ready-to-wear collections, however, there has been a ceaseless focus of the medium of fashion as a channel of communication between designer and wearer, as well as a constant display of fashion as being an undoubtedly powerful art form, which is something that has been, in my opinion, lost in the last few decades due to the rise of consumerism which demands more and more from designers every season, forcing them to cut corners in their work. Some haven’t had a new idea in years and survive every season by reworking old styles that have been around long enough to have been forgotten. Either that or they blindly pick a theme for their collection without really giving consideration as to what they themselves are trying to say through their designs. This is why Sarah Burton is arguably one of the most successful people in the industry, certainly at the moment but almost definitely of all time.
For Part Three of this article, come back tomorrow!
By Jack Wardlaw