Easily the most anticipated collection of Paris fashion week this season was Sarah Burton's runway debut since she took the helm of Alexander McQueen earlier this year. It must be daunting enough for any designer to follow in the footsteps of someone so iconic and so revered, so I can't imagine how that feeling of pressure and nervous excitement must be compounded by the fact that people are still coming to terms with McQueen's untimely death. On the one hand that's not an enviable position to be in, where not only are people's expectations high but there hopes for a successful debut are as well. On the other, if you do succeed it stands to reason that you will be embraced that much more warmly by all of the people - buyers, stylists, editors, critics, customers, and fans - who are watching. From the beginning people have been wondering what it is that Sarah will do with the label, and I think her resort collection served as a very strong mission statement. She kept pieces of McQueen's DNA, filtered them through her own sensibility and created something that was in many ways the perfect middle ground. It felt McQueen, yet it didn't try to be McQueen, if that makes any sense. But I digress...
After looking at the Spring Summer 2011 collection, taking it in and sorting it all out I feel kind of terrible to say that it doesn't wow me. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad by any stretch of the imagination and there's no doubt about it looking like a McQueen collection, but something isn't clicking for me. It's not the lack of runway theatrics, because her static resort collection clicked pretty easily], and it's not the lack of something macabre or perverse either. There's beauty here, that's not the issue, and the clothes look very well made too. I truly wish I liked this more than I do, but the most I can say is that I like the collection. It does what it needed to do, which is continue in the tradition of the label, but something feels off.
I just can't put my finger on exactly what's keeping me from feeling more for this collection. The best I can come up with is that I don't get a purposeful statement from what was presented. Pretty as the pieces may be they don't seem to add up to a whole, for me at least. And I hate to say it because I'm really rooting for Burton, but some of the pieces seem over-designed. The things I like best are the more simple looks like some of the tailoring and the few chiffon dresses that were shown. The more dramatic structured pieces, while very McQueen, just aren't working for me. Same goes for the elaborate prints, although I can't blame Burton for that. I'm honestly just burnt out on hyper-detailed photo/digital prints after seeing them everywhere for a solid two years, if not longer. Still, like I said, I'm rooting for Burton, and I really look forward to seeing her grow into her position and find her footing. Maybe in the long run this show will have served as something of a palette cleanser, something to bridge the end of one era and the beginning of another.
all images from style.com