This season, in an old shipping viaduct in Southwark within a stones throw from the Thames, Sarah Burton presented her latest menswear collection, the McQueen maritime gentlemen.
The sea holds an enchanting property; its solitude, its connection to the lunar patterns, the myriad of time-worn myths and legends that are buried below it’s uninhabitable depths. Burton delved deep, exploring the romanticism of the water’s narrative.
Reminiscent of the bowels of a ship the venue was stark and groaned, occupied only by wooden chairs and crimson spotlights pointed upwards. Like forgotten souls emerging from the waves models marched, locks dampened yet dressed ethereally in cleansing hues. Silhouettes came bold and sharply constructed injected with immaculate blue detailing, the colour of worn tattoos. Tattoos were a recurring element, embroidery formed traditional navy wrestler tattoos, etched into jacquard fabric – this armour is worn sheath tight, equivalent to flesh itself.
McQueen’s man is seafaring. Inky scrolls and creatures of the sea prints and coral ruffled sweaters were interspersed between ‘military’ precision tailoring – royal blue long line jacket and cropped trousers harking back to Lee McQueen’s Savile Row educated artistry. Attention to even the most minute detail cited the overall narrative, salt-washed denim was aged authentically, distressed to resemble specks of light glinting off seawater, and trench coat’s belt loops were recast as oversized portholes
If last season was Burton delivering a few home truths – the trio of words “Truth, Valour, Honour” opening the show, reminding us of key values – SS16 felt like a cleansing of such, an emergence of the new. But with that came a warning, ‘Lost at Sea’ banners wrapped around anchor prints reminding us that a voyage – no matter how virtuous – can also be remote. To the sound of Marty Wilde’s Sea of Love Sarah Burton took her bow:
“Come with me, my love
To the sea, the sea of love”
Beauty can indeed be found in the darkest, uninhabitable places. The late Lee McQueen once said, “there is no better designer than nature”, Burton has taken her cue.
GALLERYCatwalk looks from this show