The world was stunned last year when fashion designer Alexander McQueen committed suicide in his Mayfair, central London flat days after his much beloved mother passed. Fashion analyst tried to predict how the incredibly popular and profitable McQueen line could survive without its visionary at the helm. The sixty million dollar a year business had been gaining strength in the fashion luxury market after McQueen debuted to high reviews in 1993. His always romantic yet provocative designs showed the strength of an independent woman while raising fashion to a true couture art form. Polarizing and evocative McQueen was never afraid to take high risks. While famous names like Gareth Pugh and Marc Jacobs were rumored to take over the fashion house the ultimate choice went to long time McQueen assistant Sarah Burton.
The 2011 Summer/Spring ready to wear collection premiered at Paris Fashion week on October 12, 2010 with high anticipation and media hype. What Ms. Burton created was a more demur McQueen girl wrapped in earthy tones and hand-made weaving textiles. It was an ambitious choice to bring forth the often dark atmosphere created by McQueen and soften it a bit. With a raw natural stone stage growing brightly green grass the concept always so critical to a McQueen show was now rendered optimistic. The relationship between Burton and McQueen is quite apparent in her designs with many of his staple signature pieces given light and texture.
With unfinished edges and peaked high shoulders that were torn and ripped at the seams, a more relaxed girl walked the runway. Simple clean tailored suits and dresses gave way to embroidered black leather, raffia-trimmed brocades, and enveloping feather show pieces that clearly kept in mind McQueen’s always romantic fantasy. The layered craftsmanship of all the pieces still keep the heart of the brand, but express it in a more thoughtful manner. A strikingly pleated organza dress gives way to unfolding patterns which move on to fitted corset dresses and exaggerated hips. This style is beautifully constructed and Burton does a lot of thoughtful editing in the process.
Today the brand is holding steady with a 15% market growth and the future looks bright for a house that could have possibly collapsed under such devastating circumstances. The 2012 Fall/Winter season will be arriving in a few months and the world is anticipating an evolving inventive collection from Burton, but she has promised that there is much left to explore of her relationship with McQueen. While the world mourned the passing of a true artistic genius, it is safe to say that his legacy will be alive and well in a new successful Alexander McQueen house.