Alexander McQueenâ??s Bird Song

Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton showed what could easily be classified as her most definitive and purest collection to date. For a “ready-to-wear” collection, or demi-couture as it’s often referred to within the industry, Burton’s triumph is the highest of this Paris Fashion Week. Backstage, the atelier was working almost until the very first exit. Songs of Green Pheasant’s “I Am Day” played gently as models glided effortlessly in stacked sling-back clogs or woven leather sneakers across the creaking floorboards of an expansive schoolhouse in Paris’s 17th arrondesiment. 

During previous seasons, McQueen mannequins often donned dramatic and heavily embellished chapeaus, masks, and beauty concepts. However, this season, the hats and experimental facial adornments had all but disappeared, and the models faces appeared freshly scrubbed. This was new for Burton, and certainly new for the house that McQueen built. It seemed honest, radical even. The models’ intentionally messy woven hairdos were the only seemingly off-kilter, but no less beautiful, element among Burton’s sartorial tour de force. 

Burton revisited a few of her greatest hits since taking over for her late mentor—feminine millefeuille mini dresses, a parade of expertly cut and embroidered coats—but updated them in a way that was both more romantic and poetic, and perhaps more wearable than before. 

Heavy chains crisscrossed around the body, some with small crosses at their centers, and were worn under equally frock coats in shades of ivory and noir. Ruffles were also an important  part of the story. They fell along the front and shoulder seams of jackets and cascaded down long gossamer dresses in shades of blush and soft clay. Others were cut in leather and provided a hint of McQueen’s signature subversive quality against Burton’s sweet prairie dresses. 

A pair of embroidered blue denim looks—one crop top, one top coat—were hardly casual and seemed especially appealing. Their astounding craftsmanship alone was couture. Full stop. Most emblematic of the McQueen oeuvre was the procession of finely cut leather and lace evening gowns. Some were finished with feathers, while others were delicately rendered with dramatic images of birds. Even the bondage-infused looks seemed light. 

For more from Paris Fashion Week SS 2016, click here.