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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Alexander McQueen: The Birth of a Dream

The inspiration of Sarah Burton's intense collection included her unborn child

23 Февраля 2016

Alexander McQueen, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Alexander McQueen, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Sarah Burton is giving birth in two weeks’ time and she did what might seem normal for an artist. She channelled her dreams, her hopes and maybe her fears into an outstanding collection for Alexander McQueen.

At their heart, the clothes had an extraordinary softness — of flesh laid bare under strict tailoring or of the body wrapped in a duvet dressing robe. That puffy garment was taken to the highest couture level with stitched pink flowers and beds of green leaves. The clothes came scattered with charms: butterflies, moons and lips all in abundance, so that even a shoe would be smothered in floral decoration.

Alexander McQueen, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Alexander McQueen, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

In my long career in fashion, I can never remember seeing birth and female fecundity as inspiration. But there was Sarah opening up, like a Georgia O'Keeffe flower, the bosoms of a woman who was dressed in a petal-patterned brassiere under the sharp tailoring of a coat, worn open. By the end of the show, lace evening dresses deliberately made visible the thighs and upper legs.

“It's everything in the sub-conscious — the idea of time, of moths and eyes, sometimes with a sort of surrealism — and everything that blooms at night,” said Sarah. “And then there is the idea of vanity, obsession and a woman's dressing table — it's all a conscious/subconscious thing.” The dark/light side of womanhood was elegantly expressed in the comparison of powdery colours for the soft and fluffy pieces - like a quilted jacket made from padded satin, swarming with butterflies and edged in fluffy white fur.

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Alexander McQueen, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Alexander McQueen, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Alexander McQueen, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Alexander McQueen, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


By contrast, a black lace dress was lean and witchy, its transparent base smothered with bright butterflies and shadowy black birds. The triumph of Sarah Burton's work is that, as with Lee Alexander McQueen himself, she has kept her eye on sexuality.

It is sometimes discomforting, but delivered in her case entirely from a woman's point of view. Celebrating the nobility of maternity was quite an achievement for a fashion show.

Alexander McQueen, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Alexander McQueen, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

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