Alexander McQueen: Ready-to-wear AW17
Of all the things that Cornwall is famous for, most of which have a basis in clotted cream, Sarah Burton turned to a more slightly more obscure reference for her AW17 Alexander McQueen collection – namely, the Cloutie tree. To which you might ask: what, exactly, is a Cloutie tree? Well, to utilise the pre-show notes: “these spiritual trees are places of pilgrimage, their branches and twigs adorned with colourful ribbons and personal treasures representing the hopes and dreams of those who tied them”. Having convinced ourselves on several occasions that we are, actually, a white witch, anything with vaguely pagan connotations is a good place to start. It made for (do we even need to say it with Ms Burton?) a breathtaking collection – beginning with these tough, almost armoured, leather dresses, trailing with coloured strings, moving on towards a woman whose clothing was somehow pieced together – these rough, coloured tweeds, gowns cinched with leather belts and made up of a patchwork of fabrics, needlework that depicted the Cornish countryside. We want to say it was fairytale, but not in the froufy, Cinderella sense – more like, Maid Marian, Queen Guinevere. By which we mean this kind of medieval femininity – knits that echoed the shape of a bodice, this trailing, almost tapestry-like embroidery, golden bell sleeves, cropped shearlings. And to finish, a series of glorious gowns that hung with pagan embellishments – glass beads and stones, druid symbols, Cornish wildlife, fringing – evoking, as the notes said “the magic and mysticism of the treasures of a pagan wishing tree”. Or, simply, as we would put it: clothing to take the breath right out of your chest.
Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans