Alexander McQueen: Beauty from fashion’s global golden girl

‘It was about a beautiful future,’ said Sarah Burton, moments after she’d stepped out to take her bow, scissors poking out of her back jeans’ pocket. ‘And about looking to hope and positivity and nature.’

The venue was Salle Wagram, the scene of Lee Alexander McQueen’s seminal show, Deliverance, when he recreated the gruelling dance marathon of Sydney Pollack’s Depression era film, ‘They Shoot Horses Don’t They?’

The set was bare except for a few hundred light bulbs hanging from the ceiling like inflated glow worms. ‘So things felt like they were growing and sprouting,’ she explained.

The models were cloned with short bleached wigs, immaculately combed back off the face and hard silver visors that obscured the world’s most beautiful women, apart from their lips.


And the clothes? They weren’t exactly ‘clothes’ – not in the pedestrian sense of skirts, jackets, coats and trousers - they were more like clouds or sea anemones, or otherworldly creatures that had possessed their wearer, their zillion layers and folds gently rippling and rolling as they walked. And they grew in size until the final models virtually disappeared inside them.

They started in white, first a kind of coat-dress, clasped at the waist with silver sculpture, full skirted and with big Mongolian collars. Then came the palest pink satin dotted with miniature silk rose buds, followed by intricate laser cut leather, black mink pom-poms that recalled sea urchins, pearl grey or shell pink ostrich feathers, cream tulle scissored into millions of miniature frills, a storm of berry red silk flowers and finally topiary of the softest but most extravagant proportions.


It was a tour de force of craftsmanship, creativity and vision; the absolute essence of couture. But once the post show haze of excitement had worn off it did leave you wanting, dare I say it, more.

It is nearly two years since Burton was appointed creative director, following Alexander McQueen’s untimely death, in which time she has become the ultimate golden girl of global fashion. Not only has she created the dress of the century, she has consistently (and always humbly) provided the world with stellar shows, magically conjuring up and keeping alive the spirit of her former mentor.

This collection, as beautiful and lovely as it was, only reinforced a desire to know what Sarah Burton would do with real-life clothes.

But still, after a fantasy like that, all you can really say is ‘Thank you’.

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