The splendid interior of the Opéra Comique with its gilded plasterwork and elaborate painted walls and ceilings was the perfect setting for Sarah Burton's collection for Alexander McQueen. The designer is currently on maternity leave and it therefore made sound sense that the collection was scaled down to a mere handful of looks and unveiled to an audience of no more than 150 people. (There were three shows with only 50 guests attending each.)
And what looks they were. The inspiration behind them was the ecclesiastical wardrobe, from communion gowns to nuns' habits. There were shades too of angels and the Virgin Queen. It was a beautiful idea.
Since Burton took to the helm of this label almost three years ago now she has shown a commitment to hand-craftsmanship and surface ornamentation that is unrivalled on the ready-to-wear calender at least. Still, attention to detail this time around was nothing short of obsessive. Silk and metal thread embroideries, enamelled flowers, ostrich feathers and pearls made their way across quilted white chiffon, inky black leather and frayed organza and a signature silhouette that cinched waists and exaggerated hips.
McQueen being McQueen there was an undercurrent at play. Hoop skirts, caging, corsetry, harnessing and stockings and suspender belts lent an erotic subtext to the proceedings.
With their faces framed by stiffened black and white ruffs, models might have walked straight out of a Northern European Old Master painting or indeed, in some instances, a convent. Heads were caged in gold metal masks however which is, of course, more McQueen than Van Eyck.