The Pre-Fall season often serves as a bridge, a creative interlude that connects the grandeur of the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections. This year, the Alexander McQueen Pre-Fall 2023 collection, unveiled in stores today, is more than just a bridge – it’s a testament to the creative genius of Sarah Burton.
Sarah Burton’s talents have been on full display this year, with her dark tailoring showcased in Paris and her impeccable Coronation outfits for the Princess of Wales and Princess Charlotte. Now, she brings us a collection that reflects her continuous creative thought process, one that loops back to connect with the touchstones in the McQueen archive and propels them forward.
This season, Burton drew inspiration from McQueen’s “La Poupee” Spring/Summer 1997 collection, a reminder of the ingenious slash-and-reveal tailoring and dressmaking he was hand-making at the time. This study led her further into an anatomically-focused “peeling back” of cloth and leather, strategically spliced with zippers to open or close across the body, embedded in vertical inserts on trouser-legs, or used as devices to unfurl skirts.
The technical wizardry involved in carving out a fluid diagonal into the front of a black tuxedo jacket, or outlining a deep swooping S-shaped back in a heavily beaded dress was quite staggering. The McQueen teams’ dedication to the extremes of embroidery was evident in the bejeweling and festooning of antique-looking crystals on an evening dress, tailored dresses, cutaway jackets, black tulle stiletto ankle boots, and bags.
However, this collection is not just about the grandeur and the spectacle. It’s also a shoppable range that folds in softer and more pragmatic pieces. There’s color in the orchid motifs, derived from Burton’s research on Victorian botanical studies, that were blown up on a giant gray sweater and played over the rippling tiers of silk dresses.
And then, there are the simplest things in the shop: a trio of McQueen daywear trouser suits, sans slashing or embellishment. They are the epitome of understated elegance, designed for the discerning customer who appreciates the beauty of simplicity – royalty included.