Replacing a designer is daunting and fearful enough. But when it is a designer as unrivaled and magnificent as Alexander McQueen, it is truly a Herculean feat. In the past, designers who took over as the creative head of a design house have failed to live up to expectations (cough, cough, Valentino, cough, Balenciaga, cough). But Sarah Burton, the new creative head of Alexander McQueen stands as a most wonderful exception.
The Alexander McQueen Spring 2011 show left me floored in the best way possible. I waited for it with baited breath, and didn't get it back until quite a while after the last dress had left the runway.
The thing with McQueen shows is that each piece is so exquisite and complex that not only could they stand on their own, they ARE on their own. Each piece has its own unique story, but still melds beautifully with the rest of the collection to tell an even greater story.
This collection is one of my favorites because of the story it shows. I chose a few of my favorites (I say a few, but I couldn't just narrow it down to "a few", which indicates how much I love the collection). The collection starts off with a few all-white pieces in typical McQueen style (pointed shoulders, tailed jackets, etc), but you know there is more to come. It turns out the stark white of the first pieces represented almost a blank canvas or a blank slate--a blankness that was to be taken over by nature and color and beauty.
This piece is just one of the many examples that show how breathtaking the craftsmanship of these pieces are. I can only begin to fathom the staggering amount of time and effort that went in to crafting each of these pieces.
Yes, those are ALL feathers, hand appliqued onto a structured bodice and skirt.
And, yes. Those are Monarch butterflies appliqued onto another bodice and skirt. It was the shoes that really got me, though. No detail was left behind.
The elegant flow and drape of this dress is haunting and mesmerizing. A sea urchin or a willow tree--call it what you will. I call it awe-inspiring.
Again, the painstaking craftsmanship in these dresses is mind boggling.
It is truly a timeless, breath-taking collection and a superlative homage to Mr. McQueen. Sarah managed to represent McQueen flawlessly and maintain his integrity while still incorporating her soft, womanly touch and her own influence. I can't wait to see what she shows us next.