The worker bee was brought to life in Sarah Burton's opulent fantasy for Spring Summer 13

After the show, one of the dressers backstage was carefully holding one of the finale gowns. It had a tiny fine mesh corset with intricate bones in graphic black between which burst miniscule frothy pleats; its pale yellow skirt, over a metre wide and cascading with row upon row of fragile flowers in silk organza. ‘Nine thousand petals were made for all three dresses,’ she said. 

Across the room, past the five long trestle tables on which stood at least 100 accessories, including a tortoiseshell Plexiglas corset, Sarah Burton, circled by a throng of wellwishers said: ‘I wanted to have a lightness to it; it was all about womanhood and embracing the female form.’  

It seems only fitting that Burton should choose the subject of bees on which to unleash her febrile imagination. The designer is pregnant with her first child. Knowing that, it’s hard not to wonder if the bee theme – nature, (pollination!) and the cycle of life – popped up coincidentally or whether it came from a deeply personal place. But it hardly matters, because what she came up with was epic.  

The worker bee world was brought to life in this opulent fantasy. The honeycomb became the focus for extraordinary fabrics, patterned on sheeny hourglass jacquard suits, as rivulets of concertina pleats around the hips of pannier skirts speckled with microscopic golden bees, or as futuristic beekeeper hats.  

Of course Burton honoured the classic Alexander McQueen silhouette, with the strict opening suits and the in-out symmetry of all those waists, clasped with tortoiseshell corsets and belts. But these were no torture instruments, as they might have once appeared to be. Even the crinoline frames worn as skirts or over dresses practically bounced along, as light and exquisite as the finest lingerie.  

Not only did she capture the mood of spring / summer 2013’s freshness, freedom and optimism (also seen this week at Dior, Chanel and Valentino), this collection – only her fourth as creative director – felt like a feminist breakthrough at World McQueen for its sheer uber and unapologetic prettiness.   

 
 
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