In one of her most powerful men’s collections yet, Sarah Burton took a tough turn with a lineup of zippered leather, hacked-up trenchcoats and sharp edges to tailoring inspired by Francis Bacon and John Deakin, the 20th-century photographer who captured the louche lives in London’s Soho. Burton wanted to focus on how these complicated, troubled men lived and worked: “I wanted it to be very male, very powerfully male,” she said. “There’s a sense of danger, and of artistic expression in the cutting and tailoring.”
With the European runways now flooded with streetwear — when will it stop? — this collection, with its sharp and sculpted McQueen shoulders, nipped waists and starched white cuffs dangling from jacket and coat sleeves, was a refreshing jolt. Burton showed her hard-edged shapes with chisel-toed and Chelsea boots and shoes with angular finishing. “It’s not about streetwear. We do have a trainer, but it’s not on the runway.”
She also pointed out that what she showed at the Orangerie du Senat in the Jardin du Luxembourg “was the streetwear of the Fifties and Sixties.” She pointed to a lipstick pink leather trench bonded with duchess satin, and compared it to one of the characters Deakin or Bacon might have met prowling around Soho at night.
Tailoring also came in the form of sleek black frock coats with dangling white cuffs, sculpted cape-trenches with nipped waists and wide shoulders and trompe l’oeil pinstripe suits with cropped fronts. Coats are always statement making at McQueen and other standouts included camel ones with satin backs and trenches that were hacked in half, one part black and one part khaki.
Other pieces were slicked with abstract brush strokes: white embroidery on a black coat, with hanging fringes resembling paint, or blood red on a dark suit. Other suits sparkled with graffiti prints, while a black leather biker combo was adorned with splodges of bright color. Burton may have looked to the past for inspiration, but what showed on the runway Friday night was all about modernity in the eyes of McQueen.