Before Sarah Burton is a designer, she’s a storyteller. Her collections for Alexander McQueen are built upon glorious narratives that are informed by extensive research trips to the deepest parts of rural Ireland, the Scottish Highlands and the briskest areas of the North. For autumn/winter 2020, Burton took the McQueen team to Wales, where they researched into the country’s poetic heritage and rich folklore. When it came to this season’s menswear collection, another excursion was booked – this time foundation of the late Yorkshire-born artist Henry Moore. To help you fully understand the ins-and-outs of this season of McQueen looks, we’ve picked five key themes from both the house’s mens– and womenswear collections. Grab a pen and paper, this is your AW20 McQueen index.
The most literal Welsh inspiration of this season comes from Welsh blankets, which were adapted into asymmetric, chevron-checked wool cashmere coats (wow, that’s a mouthful). Sharp tailoring is also spliced with contrasted Prince of Wales worsted check.
Heart Lock Jewels
Dotted throughout McQueen’s AW20 collection, you’ll see a sea of gold hearts. These Heart Lock jewels were made in homage to traditional Welsh Lovespoons, where the wooden gifts are considered tokens of endearment. This sentimental entity was transferred to earrings, pendants and a series of lockets.
Taking her cues from the restrained elegance of British Art Nouveau, Burton created a slew of hybrid tailoring pieces that mixed black wool and silk with gold and silver metallic moiré. There’s also a selection of tailored evening jackets that shine with an abstract gleam.
Throughout the collection, a series of poet-sleeved gowns with a draped bow at the rear are actually inspired by a romantic muse that Dylan Thomas gushed over in his poems.
It wouldn’t be a McQueen menswear collection without some signature sharp tailoring. Traditional menswear fabrics like Donegal tweed, camel gabardine and sharkskin mohair are used to craft sturdy overcoats with pointed lapels. Certain looks drip in an inky black print, referencing Scottish flora.
by Paul Toner
Photographs by Chloe Le Drezen.