Sarah Burton brings ceremonial splendour to Alexander McQueen

Collection based on ecclesiastical wear, with ornate ruffs and cartridge-pleated skirts redolent of pomp and ceremony

In fashion as in comedy, timing is everything. Sarah Burton, designer of Alexander McQueen, found herself with a scheduling issue when the due date of her twin daughters clashed with McQueen's slot at Paris fashion week, a situation the brand resolved by downsizing this season's show to a small presentation of 10 outfits. But in another sense, her timing could not have been more apt. Her collection was based on ecclesiastical wear, a hyperstyled, ultra-chic take on the wardrobes of popes and nuns, on cardinals' robes and communion gowns. (Burton has already pulled off a fashion coup when she dressed the Duchess of Cambridge for her wedding; is a commission for the next papal inauguration so very far fetched?)

This being McQueen, the grand gowns had more than a hint of the gilded cage about them. The models' heads were enclosed in diamond-patterned gilded cages, studded with teardrop pearls; their bodies within embroidered bodices, and hoop skirts. The fishnet tights studded with pearls might be a little risque for the Holy City, but the ornate ruffs and lavishly cartridge-pleated skirts were redolent of pomp and ceremony.


Jess Cartner-Morley

The GuardianTramp

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