- Text Jake Hall
- 3rd March 2020
Last season, Sarah Burton took the Alexander McQueen creative team on a research trip to Wales, and left inspired by “the warmth of its artistic and poetic heritage, by its folklore and the soul of its craft.” These elements already permeate Burton’s vision at McQueen, which celebrates femininity through the lens of house codes – nipped-in waists, sharp shoulders, immaculate tailoring – and arguably veers closer to couture than ready-to-wear. But this season, the aim was crystal clear: to protect.
Burton evoked this idea of protection through shawls, blankets and quilts, some of which riffed on historical examples she found in Welsh museums. Yet even these softer looks were toughened up with the signature McQueen edge: a cashmere plaid blanket was draped over a leather bodice and belted tightly at the waist, whereas a cosy, knitted dress – made from two jumpers patched together – was sexed up by pillarbox red, latex boots. In Burton’s words: “The woman is courageous, grounded, bold: heroic.”
Heart motifs, described as a “symbol of togetherness and being there for others”, were laser-cut in the shape of ‘love spoons’, which are intricately carved and often given by Welsh families as wedding gifts. These were cut carefully into lace dresses, which came with elegantly asymmetric hems and peplum shaping. A series of more literal heart prints came splashed onto red and black, Lolita-style dresses, corseted at the waist and exploded at the hem by layers of black tulle. Burton described the collection as “a love letter to women and to families, colleagues and friends.” As such, she gave women the greatest gift of all: protection, but without ever sacrificing strength.