Nature, in all its darkness and light, has long been a go-to theme for Alexander McQueen, and this season, Sarah Burton looked to its brighter side for a collection inspired by the humble anemone, its vibrancy and fragility.
“Anemones are the most ephemeral flowers, here made permanent in cloth. The women wearing the anemone dresses almost become like flowers, like their embodiment, their character — but amplified, grounded, radiant and strong,” Burton mused in the liner notes.
The fall collection was unveiled this week for press and customers at McQueen stores in major cities, with all shows and events on hold for now due to social-distancing measures and travel restrictions worldwide. The images were shot by Paolo Roversi, who’s worked with the brand in the past, notably on its 2016 fragrance campaign.
In addition to the anemones, Burton also chose water as a theme, calling this moment a time “for healing, for breathing new life.” She said that for her and the team, “making something beautiful, something meaningful — feels both precious and important.”
Burton and her collaborators manipulated photos of the flowers, magnified them and printed them across billowy poly faille skirts made from recycled yarns, and dresses with big, puffed and sometimes floppy sleeves meant to resemble petals in the wind.
The pink, black and white anemone print worked its way around the hem of a long and skinny ivory knit dress and the body of a sweater with a slashed neck and zipper details. As often with McQueen, those innocent flowers had a dark edge, too, sometimes resembling blood stains, or ink blots, on Burton’s dramatic silhouettes.
The designer also looked to other flowers for inspiration, working a silvery, fragile water lily embroidery across corseted and padded white T-shirts, billowy skirts and strappy dresses. The delicate chains of the embroidery trickled down the front of the clothing like thin streaks of rain.
The drama of this collection even stretched to denim, which had a refined — and raw-edged — glamour in the form of long pleated skirts with wool inserts, and peplum jackets with rounded shoulders.
Burton paired all of those formal, painterly looks with chunky Chelsea boots or flat sneaker/deck-shoe hybrids for all of that stomping through muddy, flowery fields or wandering by the waterside gazing at the lilies.