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INTERVIEW: Alexander McQueen Womenswear SS13

Sarah Burton talks to Dazed Digital about her bee inspired collection as the McQueen buzz intensifies

PhotographyLea ColomboTextSusie Lau

The bees buzzing on the soundtrack as well as the mesmerizing digital art backdrop and honeycomb tiled runway were clues that once again Sarah Burton had looked to nature for inspiration. In true Alexander McQueen fashion, Burton is not one to do things by halves be it exploding flowers or creatures lurking under the sea. She made a poetic connection between worker bees and femininity, nodding to the female queen bees of this world if you will and immersed us into her fantastical beehive that started with hip-accentuating jackets paved with golden honeycomb and ended with floral confections, where McQueen bees would permanently reside. These hybrid bee women wore cylindrical beekeeper hats and had crystals rattling in their extreme perspex wedges. Burton was keen on staying in line with the Alexander McQueen silhouettes – hips and bust out – an extreme curve made even more enticing this time with the help of moulded tortoiseshell breastplates, corset panels and waist cinchers. They were the armour that counteracted with the soft curves of lingerie-inspired crino dresses and mottled black honeycomb jackets and skirts. With this return to femininity comes of course inevitable sensuality although it materialized into full-on sex. The bouncy chiffon sleeves falling down in a petal-applique dress. The peek of a honeycomb bustier here and there. Then there are the full-skirted creations that are partly sheer so that beneath all those layers and hoop constructions, the legs are visible. When we come to the final trio of dresses in ivory, primrose yellow and poppy red, it's almost overwhelming to see their sweet bursts of fine ruffled florals on giant chiffon crino dresses, playing out to the sweet nostalgia-inducing 'Sugar, Sugar' by The Archies. At this point in time, being overwhelmed felt like a much welcome pick me up.

Dazed Digital: What was the starting point?
Sarah Burton:
Everything was exploding last season so I really wanted to really bring it back to what the silhouettes of the house were, by embracing femininity and all female forms and looking at the hips, the waist and the bust. Then we began to peel it away as I wanted it to feel erotic but not overtly sexual.

DD: How did you connect bees with the sexual undertones of the collection?
Sarah Burton:
It was about nature and femininity. There's always a sense of nature in what we do like referencing pollination in bees. It was meant to be quite celebratory.

DD: Tell us a little about the historical shapes – the panniers, the corsets and the bustles?
Sarah Burton:
It's not meant to be historical. It's all the underpinnings of different periods. We did look at Alberto Vargas but we also looked at everything used to accentuate the female form.

DD: The moulded corsets were quite brilliant…
Sarah Burton:
Yes, we wanted to use corsets but we didn't want them to be heavy, because when you think corsetry, you always feel it might be restrictive. I wanted them to feel light. They're all moulded tortoiseshell, moulded onto the body with jewelled bees in them.

DD: So it's a celebration of the female form and ultimately women?
Sarah Burton:
Yes, us lot!