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Sarah Burton Weaves a Tale of Hugenots and Gardens

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Sarah Burton Weaves a Tale of Hugenots and Gardens

Danielle Greene

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Sarah Burton's RTW Spring 2016 Collection for Alexander McQueen was, in her own words,  “Powerfully feminine." Backstage, she also said, “I wanted it to be believable, touchable, soft." While there were nods to modernity in the body jewelry and blazers, this was a self-proclaimed departure from her previous collections, which emphasized bondage, corsetry, and tough luxe. 

Alexander McQueen RTW Fall 2015

Alexander McQueen RTW Fall 2015

This collection is, in one sense, an homage to members of the Hugenot Protestants, the 17th-century silk weavers of Spitalfields, who settled in London's East End after fleeing religious persecution in France.  “I loved the stories of how they arrived with very little, bringing seeds and bulbs in their pockets to grow. They were gardeners. And they wove their French flowers into the patterns on their silks," she says about her inspiration. 

Alexander McQueen RTW Spring 2016

But, this collection was also a dignified nod to Alexander McQueen, who traced part of his lineage to these Hugenot refugees, who are also among the first to bring high fashion to London, just as they carried seeds and bulbs with them from France to sew new lives in London. 

I fell in love with most of the collection (admittedly I wasn't inclined toward the blazers or body chain jewelry), but there were two dresses in particular that took my breath away: both the same dress in white and black lace, but inverted on the second. This connection of "opposites" with lace, femininity, and couture creates a lovely tension between early and current McQueen collections.