You’d think that a designer who’s just about to give birth to baby twins would pull back, take it easy and design a pared down collection for simplicity’s sake. When the designer in question is Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, frankly pared-down simplicity, isn’t an option. From pre-fall’s pious and sombre take on Anglican church-goers, we turn to the full-blown pageantry of Catholicism. We got an abbreviated presentation at the sumptuous Opéra Comique of just ten looks but all ten looks transported everyone to a place far and away from any of the bon chic bordering on the banal collections or even the stellar season-making moments, that we’ve seen this month. It’s a place where despite aesthetic taste differences, we can all appreciate Burton’s ultrafine and incredibly finessed craftsmanship, which she has cultivated at Alexander McQueen.
Five pairs of dresses grouped up into communion, nuns, cardinals, popes and angels all demonstrated those attributes to a point where you take one up-close look at each and every facet and your mind boggles as to how the design team achieved such detailing. This wasn’t ready to wear. In fact, only one of the ensembles will actually be produced. This was singular haute couture where thousands and thousands of pearls were worked into leather hoops, cascading down jet silk velvet or embroidered onto rhombic grid pleats that evoked Elizabethan starched ruffs. The rhomboid motif was echoed in the gold face frames. If the next Pope-to-be was to be confronted by these dresses, perhaps he might allow a female cardinal or two into the fray. Not that, appealing to Catholics was the point. This collection put Catholicism on a pedestral, celebrating surface, craft and aestheticism rather than the religion. Or rather, it’s about religious worship of unadulterated beauty in fashion. What could be better than that?