Before Her Final Bow at Alexander McQueen, a Tribute to Sarah Burton and Her Extraordinary Talent

Sarah’s way of working with the extraordinary atelier—built up to rival Paris couture standards, in the east end of London—and encouraging specialist teamwork at McQueen has added immensely to the archive, not a place ever regarded as a museum, but as a living resource. Her collections flowed from a place which talked poetically about nature, female stories, ancient legends, paganism, and gardens.

In spring 2017, she was talking about “sisterhood, women’s milestones and rituals; birth, christenings, weddings, and funerals,” In spring 2020, there were dresses inspired by the blue flax flower fields she had taken her team to see blooming in Northern Ireland. Humanizing fashion, and encouraging craft and community steadily became more of a mission. “I love the idea of people having the time to make things together, to meet and talk together, the time to reconnect with the world,” she said after her fall 2019 show.

Alexander McQueen, fall 2012 ready-to-wear

Monica Feudi /

Photographed by David Sims, Vogue, July 2012

Little was seen or understood of this until that same year, when Sarah initiated a free exhibition space at the top of the Alexander McQueen Bond Street flagship store, a gallery where workings of the design studio, research photographs, and the spectacular dresses and tailoring from her own collections are displayed. The current exhibition “Roses,” has her humongous pink petalled dress from fall 2012, the mind-blowing whorl of red-rose taffeta from fall 2019, the flax-flower spring 2019 dress, and more, with all the design inspirations, the technical work, and love that went into them.

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