Alexander McQueen Womenswear A/W12

Sarah Burton proves that McQueen under her steer is on a petal-strewn path to gold

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Sarah Burton let her imagination run away with her last night with a collection that seemed to want to elevate above and beyond what she has done before. On a pragmatic and business level, the repositioning and new direction for Alexander McQueen’s diffusion line McQ, which showed during London Fashion Week with theatrical fanfare, puts a certain type of pressure on the mainline to soar to new magical heights. On a design level, Burton was perhaps expressing her own take on the subject of beauty – a beauty that need not be tortured or disturbing as per what Lee McQueen might have done. Burton's latest collection for McQueen therefore felt like a breakthrough.

The aerated feeling continued as lilac petal-esque caped dresses, embroidered with flowers and feathers fluffed about and black leather minis covered in black furry pom poms all felt like they were in flux

It opened with snow queens from the near future, wearing silver plexiglass masks and heel-less padded boots, which gave the sense that the models were floating. Indeed, there was a frothy lightness that permeated even the heaviest of jacquard and fur-collared coats. The aerated feeling continued as lilac petal-esque caped dresses, embroidered with flowers and feathers fluffed about and black leather minis covered in black furry pom poms all felt like they were in flux. Ostrich feathers and Mongolian lamb and goat furs in the softest shades of grey and pink swept past you with complete abandon: you barely noticed that three quarters of the show in, you hadn’t actually seen a single piece of down-to-earth daywear. That’s fortunate as there is no place for anything remotely middle-of-the-road in a show as exuberant as this, where the body undergoes a visually arresting transformation into a flower.

Ostrich feathers and Mongolian lamb and goat furs in the softest shades of grey and pink swept past you with complete abandon: you barely noticed that three quarters of the show in, you hadn’t actually seen a single piece of down-to-earth daywear

The buildup from the feather and fur explosions leads on to a ruffled and tiered confection of dresses, which ended with six human flowers of hand-massaged chiffon. In the final two looks, the tiers of chiffon were so exaggerated and voluminous that you could barely see the limbs and heads of the girls. Every layer was delicately teased out and frothed up as they swallowed up the body into a take on the flower like no one else had done before. They were representative of the number of hours, fingers and more than likely blood, sweat and tears that had gone into this elevated collection. As Burton came out to take her bow, you noticed immediately the pair of scissors sticking out of her back pocket, evidence of her grafting, which goes above and beyond any call of duty to her late boss, to the house of McQueen and ultimately, to the craftsmanship of clothes.

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