Less than a day from the close of a grueling, seemingly endlessfashion season, it seemed fitting (if perversely so) to celebrate thosebastions of hard work and distinctive, functional design — bees.

AlexanderMcQueen’s Sarah Burton was drawn to bees, she said before her show,because theirs is “a matriarchal society where the females rule.” Andbecause the artful shape they’ve given to nature, the honeycomb, opened awealth of possibilities for her as she returned to a “heritagesilhouette” —  read: strict and form-fitting — in a collection with anundercurrent of erotic theatricality and a hint of Vargas pinups withoutthe cute factor.

Burton transported the honeycomb shape intojacquards, nets and laces, some embroidered with bees, and worked aconsiderable portion of the collection in iridescent versions of honey,gold and black. She opened with wasp-waist jackets, their peplumsconstructed for exaggeration over resin bustiers; racy, reed-thin skirtsor pants and boots made from a crystal-studded stretch of netting thatran up the leg. Structural exaggeration of the jackets allowed fordramatic focus on the hips. As the collection went on, Burton began tosimultaneously undress and add, putting traditional underpinnings, cagesand corsets on the outside as dresses. Eventually these went undercoverin exquisite, though not always sane, eveningwear. A yellow dress withflowers trapped within its bubble of a skirt looked party-ready;conversely, a huge, crazy cage of a flower-strewn gown, also yellow,looked right for Scarlet to wear home — if home were not Tara but GreyGardens.

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