He who shouts loudest loses, she who dares to whisper wins. This season, Sarah Burton delivered a romantic display of who she is as a designer. Her DNA, her greatest hits, whatever you would like to call it, this show wasn't like a show. It was the subtle sharing of a moment. There was of course Lee McQueen’s presence here too, by way of birds leaping across lace dresses, Maharaja design elements,and little drummer boy jackets that nodded towards The Girl Who Lived in the Tree collection. Chiffon ruffled dresses, in Burton’s now idiosyncratic babydoll shape, almost melted from the form – whilst at once also calling to mind Kate Moss’s ethereal ‘disappearing’ from The Widows of Culloden show. In a season where it may look like some of our designers have been ‘sitting it out’, McQueen are doing quite the opposite. Powerful in its reserve, Miuccia Prada’s collection displayed the same resolve this season. In an industry where we are expecting designers to reinvent themselves every single season, this collection was a confident self-assured statement. A refusal to move from her world - this was a collection created by Sarah Burton for the house of Alexander McQueen.
This season may have been very much about colour experimentation, but it has also been about stripping things back – a return to the dressing maker’s dummy, to the cutting room. Many of Burton’s pieces were proposals for pieces - rendered in romantic toile shades of cream, nudes and taupe. One long black crocheted dress saw panels inter-stitched with cream threads. It looked like the beginning of a dress. I was waiting for the collection to lift of, but it never did. Very much like Karl Lagerfeld for Fendi, it was resolutely contained and committed. Washed out calicoes opened the collection. Dresses looked like they were peeling away, whilst a floral wallpaper pattern whispered memories - memories of a kind of subdued romance we have long forgotten. Girls had their hair plaited - their halos of baby hair looked like they had been out in the garden all day. Even the chains, which criss-crossed the body, were so finely spun that they called to mind spider webs and Secret Garden adventures, whilst the thicker versions were Changing of the Guard gothic.
As a line of long dresses swept the floorboards, one thought of the concept of ‘treading the boards.’ Like all great performances, this wasn’t about hype and glamour; it was about a damn good script.