Alla Kostromichova (WOMEN)
Sarah Burton proved she's the only choice to expand on Lee McQueen's legacy with a Resort collection that effortlessly updated his design codes without losing his drama. There's so much great material lying fallow in old McQueen collections that it would overwhelm anyone without the empathy, experience, and ability to edit that Burton brings to a difficult job. For Resort, she confidently revisited some of her own favorite moments in her mentor's saga with a lightness that could be easily construed—for want of a better notion—as a woman's touch.
For instance, a Victorian jacket was reconfigured as a white cotton shirtdress. But, more significantly for the future, proportions were lifted, with a higher waist taking some of the edge off of McQueen's traditional silhouette. It worked spectacularly well with evening dresses that fell away beautifully from the torso. One of them—in what looked like blood-drenched chiffon—evoked a vision of Isabelle Adjani in La Reine Margot, one of McQueen's favorite movies. It seems a taste for the macabre comes as naturally to Burton as it did to him. She shares his instinct for extreme glamour, too. His Hollywood clientele will scarcely be disappointed by the tuxedo dress that was bifurcated by black lace.
The tension between hardness and fragility that characterized McQueen's work was successfully sustained in defined shoulders (some armored like a samurai's) and tailored torsos that fell away into fins of diaphanousness. Burton continued to hybridize fabrics as she did in the Fall collection—lace transformed into chiffon in one cocktail dress.
Touches like that should allay the inevitable fears of McQueen's fans that continuation of his line would involve some kind of sellout. Yes, there is more of what could pass for "daywear" here, but if Burton's collection is commercial, it's because it is direct. Pieces like the white kimono-sleeved coat-dress or the black dress in a lacquered raffia and organza have a straightforward chic.
Burton hasn't neglected the dark romance, either—the brocades, the bullion embroidery are still here. She's simply let some light in.