All roads led north for Sarah Burton who went back to where she came from, the industrial heartlands of northern England, for this stunning Alexander McQueen show. It was a powerful and sensitive exploration of the region’s history from the 15th century Wars of the Roses, to its fashion powerhouse past – its wool and cotton mills that clothed the Empire. To this day if you want the best quality tailoring cloth, you must go north. The audience sat on industrial bolts of Made in England fabric and the the show paid homage to British cloth and craft.
Tailoring took centre stage: Sharp, sartorial but with a feminine edge. The McQueen cut is second to none and all the fabrics told a story. The softness of the local water helped make the flannel of the opening look feel lush and lustrous. The cotton poplin in a shirt dress came from a Pennine mill which first opened in 1790. One dress was encrusted with silver fragments of loom machinery. The gritty photography of northern industrial towns informed prints but there was also a sweeping romanticism inspired by the Wars of the Roses. Rose pattens prevailed and the finale dresses on Adut and Anok were sculpted in silk taffeta and made to resemble roses in bloom. It was beautiful, breathtaking and very McQueen.
by Claudia Croft