For the past few seasons, designer Sarah Burton has been giving fashion goers a womenswear proposition that favored a harder, more protective approach. Women who are not easily wooed or in need of rescue. That all changed on Sunday night with a Spring/Summer collection that looked like an antique fairytale picture book come to life.
Everything about this long and lean collection had a girly femininity to it. From the flower embroidered leather dresses and the ruffled silk gowns to the poetic frayed effect on a slim short washed silk faille jacket. And when a dashing young prince was needed, a girl could play the part in a fitted red officer’s jacket or (in a contemporary twist) a pair of shredded jeans.
However, all of this romanticism was grounded in an impressive amount of research and a point of reference from the 17th century. That was when Huguenot immigrants disembarked in London seeking asylum as religious refugees and finally set down roots in Spitalfields. What they brought with them was an impressive skill set for weaving silks and a love of floral themes.
With that concrete back story in mind, Burton had a field day creating a collection that unabashedly celebrated the distressed beauty of fil coupe jacquards; the dovetailing of lace and tulle; and the sweet, yet resilient, blending of leather with organza.
She accomplished her creations in a way that looked ethereal and beautifully threadbare. Both preciously delicate and powerful thanks to the inclusion of a few metal harnesses worn against the skin under tailored long jackets and a pair of fishnet woven sheer dresses that followed every curve of the model’s body.
In the end, the designer’s fairytale show was less The Brothers Grimm and more Walt Disney. Basically, Burton wanted to give her audience a happily ever after. And she did just that.