Wednesday, 11 July 2012

McQueen of the Catwalk

Alexander McQueen is considered to be the cutting edge of British Design, the jewel in our fashion crown, and with Sarah Burton as creative director McQueen hasn't put a fashion foot wrong. She was the creative talent behind the Duchess of Cambridge's exquisite wedding gown. And as she launches her fourth collection as head of British design house Alexander McQueen, it's clear that Sarah Burton has hit her stride and then some. The highly accomplished collection, which made its debut on the Paris catwalk in March earlier this year, continues the flamboyant design house's tradition of texture, ruffles, volume, coupled with the sense of adventure that marks McQueen out time after time. With autumn/winter 12, the fiercely talented creative director and showcases the staggering wealth of the technical skill and talent that helped her rise from work experience girl to head of the design house over a 14 year period.

Alexander McQueen (1969 - 2010) burst onto the fashion stage in 1992, courting controversy as headlines hailed him as the new enfant terrible. Though contentious and frequently misunderstood, he established the fashion label that is now internationally acclaimed and coveted without compromising his approach. From the start of his career McQueen has both shocked and delighted his audience with raw presentations often depicting bleak history and anarchic politics. These shock tactics began in dimly-lit warehouses away from the staid environment of the London Fashion Week tents. His autumn/winter 1995 catwalk show in particular captured the headlines. Entitled Highland Rape, the collection featured dishevelled and battered-looking models in torn clothing. It was McQueen’s comment on the rape of the Highlands at the hands of the British; interpreted by others as a perverse and misogynistic celebration of the sexual violation of women. His spring/summer 1997 collection, La Poupee, featured a black model whose movements were restrained by a metal cage attached to her limbs, hit the headlines again. Inspired by the German puppet-master Hans Bellmer, the rusty contraption was designed to evoke a marionette; inevitably, again, some of the press saw bondage, slavery and the subordination of women.

Despite the controversy that surrounded him as a designer he created collections that celebrities, models and fashionistas alike wanted to wear an formed close personal relationships with Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Sarah Jessica Parker. He committed suicide in 2010 after the death of his mother. Leaving a huge hole in the fashion industry and a space for a new creative director at Alexander McQueen. Sarah Burton took the job.

Alexander McQueen with Sarah Jessica Parker at the Met Gala 2006 she wears his design.
Sarah Burton grew up in Manchester before moving to London to study fashion at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. On the recommendation of a tutor, Burton completed a placement year with Alexander McQueen in 1996, rejoining again upon her graduation the year after. In 2000, Burton was made Head of Design – Womenswear. After Alexander McQueen's tragic death, Burton was announced as Creative Director of the Alexander McQueen brand. By then, she had worked alongside Lee McQueen for more than 14 years. Since her appointment, Burton has produced four acclaimed collections. Her debut in Spring/Summer 2011 was a highly acclaimed showcase of intricate craftsmanship. In Autumn/Winter 2012, Burton continues to focus on handcraft, establishing herself as an accomplished designer with artisan and technical excellence.

Today, Burton supervises the creative direction and development of all collections of the brand which includes women's and men’s ready-to-wear and accessories as well as the contemporary line, McQ, also made up of women's, men's and accessories collections. Sarah Burton has been honoured with 2011 Designer of the Year Award, British Fashion Awards; Harper’s Bazaar Woman of the Year Award (UK); Glamour Designer of the Year; The Walpole Award for British Luxury Design Talent; Quintessentially Excellence Award and in 2012, at the Elle Style Awards, International Designer of the Year.

Alexander McQueen and his designs set the fashion world alights and the light continues to burn with Sarah Burton in charge as Creative Director, she was the perfect choice to take over from the legendary Lee McQueen. She created the perfect look for Kate Middleton on her wedding day and she has dressed nearly every major Hollywood Star on the red carpet. Her last four collections have set the fashion catwalk alight with a clear influence from Lee McQueen's legendary design skills and his vivid imagination. Sarah Burton shows her own creativity and design prowess, she is clearly a very talented and extraordinary women, who I hope will be in charge at Alexander McQueen for a very long time to come… All hail the McQueen of fashion.

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