Tonight's Alexander McQueen show took place in the Conciergerie on the Île de la Cité. If, like me, you think this has anything to do with The Society of the Crossed Keys (non Wes Anderson fans: a) Google it and b) what are you doing with your lives?) you ought to be disappointed, although disappointment is a sentiment with no place at a McQueen show. As it turns out, it's the old prison that acted as the antechamber to the guillotine during the Revolution and where a certain Marie stayed before losing her head. It has all the McQueen ingredients: drama, royalty, revolution, gothic beauty and Sarah Burton's latest collection ticked all of the above and then some.
Burton has been playing with the notion of the fragile yet strong English rose for a while now and that's what this collection was focused on too. The theme may have felt familiar but Burton executed it (sorry!) so beautifully that frankly, she could work her way through a botanical encyclopedia and no-one would mind. And yet, there were some very sensual clothes here too - that felt new and exciting - deflated pouf hairstyles aside. Glossy and in a strict black and rose palette, with the occasional pop of royal red, Burton showed black embossed leather coats and cropped trouser suits with powdery or red fur collars. There was a stunning array of dresses, from the tiered knitted ones that McQueen is known for, here sheer and exposing the waist, to some delicately crystal pleated bustier ones in rose that dipped into red (was that blood or simply the slow blooming into blood red?) to a series of incredible sheer ruffled ones that were cut open to reveal black lace climbing up and around the sternum like poisoned ivy. The chiffon and lace dresses at the end of show, their couture buttons left undone, appeared whisper-light, and silently blossomed into the pinkest of roses, ravels of buds opening up before collapsing. Hauntingly beautiful.