“English rock,” the stated inspiration for the Alexander McQueen men’s show today, embraces a multitude of possibilities, from the indie-est shoe-gaze to the most flagrant theater, with armies of fans embracing each and every one of them. And that’s what seeped through the collection that Sarah Burton offered. Her love for what she does found a theme that loved her back.
It’s a funny coincidence that Raf Simons used the Jil Sander collection he showed the other day to telescope half a century’s worth of style into a single fashion statement. Burton made it easier on herself by more or less addressing one decade—the sixties—from its mod onset to its Dionysian conclusion. Although it wasn’t strictly Mick and the Stones that Burton had on her mind, you could whisk up a little through-line if you followed the show from its checked and striped beginning to the white-jeans-and-Chelsea-boots moment to the red-velvet dandyism to subverted Savile Row. Then there was that flouncy white thing Jagger wore for the band’s legendary free concert in Hyde Park followed by a climax in jet-beaded, fedora-ed decadence when rock’s “Satanic Majesties” danced with the devil and got burned by hellfire. All of this was happening while Stevie Ray Vaughan did his level best on the soundtrack to prove that he was Jimi Hendrix’s equal when it came to “Voodoo Child”‘s feedback freak-out.
Never mind reading too much into a fashion show, the dark drive of the presentation certainly played into the McQueen spirit. Burton continued to evolve what is becoming a signature dialogue between tailored precision and easy volume: a puce tail coat over elasticized-waist pajamalike pants, for instance, or a striped, double-breasted jacket over Lurex-shot pants that, again, could have been pj’s. She also struck a skillful balance between the measured—the three-piece suit—and the extreme—the flames that consumed a jacket and matching shirt. Those are two radically different markets right there, and signs are that Burton is perfectly capable of steering a steady course between them.