Since her appointment in 2010 as creative director, Sarah Burton has produced critically acclaimed collections, showing an ability to marry the design codes of the house with lightness and her own feminine touch and creating a new personal aesthetic and a blueprint for the future.
Burton received global recognition as the designer of HRH the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress in April 2011, the same year she was named Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards. In 2012 Time magazine listed her as one of its 100 most influential people and she was awarded an OBE for services to the British fashion industry. In 2011 the Costume Institute organised the retrospective Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in recognition of McQueen’s talents and achievements.
In 2015, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London hosted the exhibition, adding a brand new ‘London’ gallery. It was to become the most visited exhibition in the museum’s history.
Alexander McQueen shows are known for their emotional power and raw energy. The label, with its romantic, contemporary collections and unbridled creativity, has become synonymous with modern British couture. Integral to the McQueen culture is the juxtaposition of contrasting elements: fragility and strength, tradition and modernity, fluidity and severity. McQueen’s collections combine an in-depth knowledge of British tailoring, a profound respect for the arts and crafts tradition, fine workmanship and the impeccable finish of Italian manufacturing.
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Founded in 1992 by the uncompromisingly talented designer Lee McQueen, Alexander McQueen became one of the most respected fashion houses in the world in less than ten years. McQueen began his career as an apprentice for Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard and Gieves & Hawkes. From there he moved to theatrical costumiers Angels and Berman’s, gradually mastering the pattern-cutting techniques and razor-sharp tailoring that became the signature of his house. McQueen completed a masters degree in fashion design at Central Saint Martins, where his graduate collection was bought in its entirety by the British fashion editor Isabella Blow.
Alexander McQueen’s A/W’17 collection was inspired by the pagan landscapes and ancient traditions of Cornwall, in particular the ‘Cloutie’ trees, seen as spiritual places of pilgrimage.
The trees’ branches are adorned with colourful ribbons, representing the hopes and dreams of those who tied them. Characterised by fluid, elongated silhouettes, raw edges, patchwork, embroidery and cross-stitching, the collection has a medieval feel – even down to the gold and silver eyelets that reference Queen Guinevere’s soft armour. The collection’s detailing was carried through into accessories like the box bag, inspired by antique luggage and treasure chests. Here ‘Cloutie’ ribbons were reimagined using colourful leather lace fringing and a braided strap; other versions were finished in tweed shot through with brightly coloured twisted yarns. Having expanded internationally through wholesale and retail channels, Alexander McQueen has strengthened its position in the luxury sector. Through a network of 48 stores worldwide and an e-commerce operation that ships to over 100 countries, fans are able to access and shop the brand literally anywhere in the world.