If you don’t already know, Sarah Burton was Lee McQueen’s first assistant for 15 years. She was handed the daunting task of taking over the house after his suicide this past spring. I took a peek at what she did for the Resort 2011 collection, and decided to wait and see how she did with Spring 2011 before I formed conclusions about her capabilities, especially after all my anxieties about the future of the brand.
This entire collection is quite lovely. It’s funny, I imagine after working so closely with someone for so long, a strange connection must form. She’s channeling him and his process in these looks. Right down to how and from where he draws his inspiration. Lee McQueen loved to search the past, and I don’t mean fashions between 1900 and 2000. He went further, and would reintroduce proportions and shapes from the Middles Ages, the Renaissance, etc. All of it driven toward one central idea, theme, and mood.
Burton has done just that. There are English folk symbols throughout this collection. All of them representative of harvesting and renewal. The runway itself played a part: simple, bare wooden boards with shoots of green grass growing between the cracks. All of McQueen’s signature cuts and shapes are here, but some of them have been reworked and softened. The first three looks featured McQueen’s signature tailcoats. Apparently they were made of 10 layers of hand-frayed white silk! They were soft, feminine, and totally wearable. Gone were the sharp, exaggerated shoulders. Burton had slashed them away to reveal the skin of the shoulders.
The craftsmanship still astounds me. Some of these pieces…I just find myself staring and wondering, “How was this even made? How is this even POSSIBLE?” And then you have the usual McQueen showstoppers, some of which felt too much like costumes. Lee would pull this off, all this Romanticism and excess and it was genius. It was beautiful. I don’t know. Something about a cornhusk dress with little grains of corn or wheat on the shoes? A little too literal. Distill it.
She’s done well. I felt like crying or something after I went through all the pictures and watched the video clips. Burton’s managed to find her voice in all of this. She’s a woman, and it’s reflected in the work. It’s interesting. She’s working with all of his cuts from the last 15 years, in the same manner he would have. In his voice and with his seamstresses. She’s working with a wonderful palette. I envy her.
p.s. The hair design and shoes? LOVE!
All images courtesy of Vogue.com. The new site is wonderful. You should check out that horrid dress with the cornhusk heels.