The extraordinary talent of Sarah Burton, beckoned by fate, rather than ambition or ego, to front a major house, is something to love about fashion today. On Tuesday night, Burton did herself and the rarefied Alexander McQueen ethos proud with an exquisite collection, an ode to “The Ice Queen and Her Court.”
Burton’s heroines are a fascinating lot, their colorless faces and small, metal-covered heads indeed projecting icy countenance. She conceived the collection narrowly, building it around an appropriately limited palette of white, black and lilac and a very McQueen silhouette, one molded and aggressive, its structure intensified by multiple graphic zippers and, sometimes, a harness. That stark impression was tempered, however, by an artisanal component evident in gorgeous hand-loomed silk and wool tweeds worked with tufts of mink and fox. Among the other stunning fabrics: checked and studded velvets and organza bulleted into crisp honeycombs on the abundant skirts of two dresses, yet frayed to exquisite imperfection on another. This was accomplished by a table full of young workers who, on the day before the show, literally brushed the fabric threadbare with floor brushes, toothbrushes, “any kind of brush we can find,” one said. Even more remarkable, two dresses had bodices crafted entirely from mosaics of broken bone china plates.
As for the evening gowns, the word breathtaking understates the reality. Their lavish white-on-white mastery made one hope that Burton is fibbing out of necessity, and that she has, in fact, gotten the nod for a particular April wedding.