Alexander McQueen F/W 2011 RTW

Two of Burton's couture creations for the Alexander McQueen F/W Ready-to-Wear collection.

Shouldering the weight of Alexander McQueen’s enormous legacy is no small task, but Sarah Burton has shown that she is indeed up to the challenge. The thirty-six couture pieces that comprised Burton’s second collection for Alexander McQueen managed to be faithful to the label’s aesthetic while also establishing Burton as an artist in her own right.

Burton’s chosen venue—La Conciergerie, the final “home” of Marie Antoinette before her beheading in October of 1793—conjured up memories of caged wolves and McQueen’s F/W 2002 Ready-to-Wear show. Although there were no wolves this time, McQueen’s presence was evident in the collection’s sharp, precise tailoring and attention to even the most minute of details. It was this attention to detail and technique that made Burton’s collection so successful. The intensity of the craftsmanship was visible on nearly every surface, from the porcelain shards affixed to the surfaces of two corsets to a white tweed coat made from a mixture of yarn, ribbon, and fur.

The final portion of the show brought together McQueen’s love of drama and grandeur with Burton’s serene, romantic vision in the form of a series of gowns and dresses that even the former Dauphine would have a hard time resisting. When asked about the inspiration behind her designs, Burton is quoted as saying, “I was thinking about an ice queen. Someone strong and noble and romantically powerful.” Instead of being cold, though, Burton’s designs were all soft edges and feminine details, giving the show an irresistible air of serenity.