End of an era

Sarah Burton’s final Alexander McQueen collection was guts and all
By Ella Joyce | Fashion | 3 October 2023

After 26 years at Alexander McQueen, including 13 years as creative director, Sarah Burton delivered her swan song collection for the British house. Staged in Le Carreau du Temple, this season served as an impeccably written sequel to the narrative Burton began writing for FW23, which saw her deliver a collection of Saville Row-inspired tailoring and elegant silhouettes. This time around, things were turned inside out – guts and all. 

Suiting was spliced in a surgical manner as it severed along ribcages, slashed open at the shoulders and cut in at the waist. In a similar vein, knitwear mirrored anatomy as stitches and loops mapped out the body’s inner workings on cosy jumpers or oversized cardigans. Honouring the whimsically dark imagination that has underpinned McQueen’s design vocabulary since the very beginning, Burton’s dramatic incisions and somatic designs remind us of this collection’s starting point – Queen Elizabeth I. As a monarch who heralded the last reign of the Tudors, Burton took the period’s taste for the theatrics of torture and ran with it. 

Reinterpreting the symbol of the House of Tudor saw blood-red roses melted across suits, morphed into petal-like peplums or fashioned into three-dimensional forms. Red hues ran through the collection as prints mirrored blood stains, embroidery embossed dresses with female anatomy and threads hung off garments to give the illusion of blood dripping from skin. Above all, Burton allowed craft to shine, calling upon her extensive tenure at McQueen to deliver a collection of intricate detail and impeccable form steeped in British heritage.

As Naomi Campbell closed proceedings in an open-heart corseted silver gown, Heroes by David Bowie rung through the show space in an exquisite ode to the inimitable legacy Burton is leaving behind. Delivering a parting message, the show notes read; “The show is dedicated to the memory of Lee Alexander McQueen, whose wish was always to empower women, and to the passion, talent and loyalty of my team.”

GALLERYCatwalk images from Alexander McQueen WOMENS-SPRING-SUMMER-24