Spring 2011 London Fashion Week this year was epic. Of all the Fashion Weeks from New York to Milan this season, London takes first prize in unique elegance, dramatic evolution in the industry as a whole and emotional effect over the thousands who flocked to some of the biggest shows in the world. The first Spring 2011 collection I will discuss in this eight part series I call: Who Cares About Vanessa Petey’s Opinion, will be Alexander McQueen.
Last February 2010 the fashion world witnessed the tragic suicide of Lee Mcqueen, the celerated designer who changed the entire purpose of creating Couture clothing. McQueen introduced a Modernist perspective to the art of fashion design focusing on “art for art’s sake” in his process of designing garments. In 1999 he gained a career launching amount of praise from the presentation of his Spring/Summer collection for the label. The show featured a model in a white dress turning while being sprayed by robots with paint. The dress was being created on stage in front of everyone. It denied the entire concept of a fashion show and threw the obsession with ornament owned by the fashion industry in its own face. He was a risk taker and a rule breaker and I remember watching him with the label in question as well as with the House of Givenchy, never disappointing with a unique and memorable collection each season.
This year Lee McQueen’s devoted former assistant Sarah Burton was responsible for presenting a collection with the label, which over the years has come to stand for the creative and intellectual evolution of the art of fashion design. Burton has been expected to keep the spirit and poetic grasp of McQueen’s image while simultaneously introducing her own insight on the direction of the label. The consensus on the topic from the most influential figure heads has been overwhelmingly positive.
The presentation of the new line was a very key decision for Burton as the artistic director of the Spring 2011 fashion show. Lee McQueen was known for his dramatic and artistic productions, reflecting the vision of the collection he had in mind. Burton’s fashion show took place on a cement runway with green grass growing through cracks across the stage. Her meaning is simple but beautiful – new life can come of the bleakest times and the legend of Alexander McQueen will continue to thrive through the sombre memory of Lee’s life and death.
Okay so this collection is unbelievable. No one thought Sarah Burton could do what she did and that’s taking the image of McQueen as a label and twisting it with her own identity as a designer to create a fresh and hopeful look for the label coupled with trademark rebellion and daring. She begins the show with a series of white outfits, all committed to the McQueen silhouette and style. The pagoda shoulders that McQueen was known for in his prime were present, but slashed so the fabric hung open in defiance. This was the first indication that this collection would be rebellious, but faithful in only the most appropriate ways. She then went on to include the famous McQueen geometric prints in keeping with the textbook silhouette while gradually introducing more fluid lines and flowy fabrics creating a lighter, more optimistic look. The whole thing has a very earthy feel starting with the basket woven hair and proceeding through the earth goddess shapes and designs we see as the collection progresses. In the middle of the show we see the introduction of the McQueen detailing which has been so important to the label since its beginning. The tiny leather flowers sewn together to create a unique yet poetic garment that’ll for sure be seen on red carpets to come. In addition to the mother goddess, earthy feeling you also see strong tribal elements suggesting that Burton went back to basics while designing this collection – a feature which is evident in the purity and optimism of her collection.
There was always something about a McQueen dress that set it apart from everything else. It makes it timeless and unique – a dress for every age, every event and feels instantly vintage when worn. Sarah Burton’s 2011 Spring collection keeps the beauty and individuality of the Alexander McQueen line while introducing a new light of confidence for the future of the legendary label.