SIGNED, sealed and delivered was the love letter to the Welsh countryside that informed Sarah Burton’s AW20 collection for Alexander McQueen at Paris Fashion Week this season. A result of visits outside of their London-based headquarters, the collection looked to the land of dragons for inspiration. In the show notes Burton outlined, “we went to Wales and were inspired by the warmth of its artistic and poetic heritage, by its folklore and the soul of its craft.”
Razor-sharp tailoring was as ever a focus, with glossy duchesse satin suits in fire engine red, blush pink and black; working in contrast to a series of handcrafted patchwork effect tailored pieces. An homage to Welsh tradition and the notion of comfort and protection, quilting was a key feature throughout the collection – in leather and in wool – on blazer, coats, dresses and even on oversized versions of their recently launched story bags.
The harnesses we saw earlier this year at the Menswear AW20 presentation in Milan were refined and updated for Burton’s Womenswear collection. Lace-like floral structures now grew up the surface of couture gowns and intertwined like Celtic knots. Leather cross-body straps suspended miniature silver cases and charms, similar to the ones we also saw for men’s, but this time embossed with motifs of Welsh floral and fauna.
White and red lace embroideries were inspired by the Welsh love spoon, an intricately carved single piece of wood given as a gift of romantic intent for centuries in Welsh culture. One evening dress, entirely embellished with silver metal beads, sequins and wire was also adorned with dangling spoons that swayed left-to-right as the model walked the show.
Burton also looked to seventeenth century love letters, which influenced a series of silk taffeta and organza dresses, adorned with an entwining love heart jacquard print – developed from the letters she found and graphic decoration from the medieval period.
Models’ hair was slicked back and died a vibrant shade of red; reminiscent of houses Burton and her team had also come across during their research, which were painted the same shade of red to ward off evil. “The woman is courageous, grounded, bold: heroic,” Burton explained.
For AW20 Burton’s vision was delivered in the form of bright-lights, hard wooden flooring, immaculate tailoring and a collection that spoke fundamentally of strength and adoration – perhaps at a time when it is most needed.