PFW SS13: Alexander McQueen’s Flowers And Bees


Alexander McQueen, Spring/Summer 2013

Sarah Burton poured on the honey for her SS13 Alexander McQueen collection in Paris last Tuesday. The collection explored the sweetly sensuous relationship between flowers and the bees that love them.

The show started in the hive, with a series of glorious wasp-waisted, forties-inspired suit silhouettes embellished with variations on a black and gold honeycomb motif. (One could see the through line between these and the final gilded looks in Burton’s Bowie-inspired Resort 13 collection.)

Throughout the collection, models wore black or gold visors that resembled beekeeper’s headgear, along with a series of gorgeous ruddy tortoiseshell accessories that ranged from chokers and bracelets to belts and molded corsetry. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen tortoiseshell utilized so beautifully. It’ll be everywhere come Spring, methinks.

Before long, the sexily strict suits gave way to a more overtly sensual explosion of floweriness, not unrelated to Fall 2012. Burton brought out the big guns here: caged corsets, floral decolletage, and crinoline the likes of which would make Scarlett O’Hara gasp. These were the flowers, ripe for pollination.

There was something quite saccharine about many of these floral gowns, with their la-di-da Southern belle hoop skirts, but then that was likely Burton’s intention. Fall’s flower gowns, though easily as over-the top as these, were much more edgy. By contrast, this was a show that was, at least in part, about simple Darwinian attraction and the laws that govern that realm. You can’t blame nectar for being too sweet, after all. The bees, with all of their structure and practicality, may intellectually disdain such shows of unbridled prettiness – yet still they must come back for more.

Not all of the gowns gave me a cavity, however. Suvi Koponen looked like a Klimtian Delphic priestess in her gilded off-the-shoulder honeycomb gown, with the crinoline on the outside. Setting aside the froufy dresses in favor of the golden theme, I did at times sense the presence of an ancient symbolic undercurrent – namely, the ancient Greek role of bees as the creatures that bridge this world with the Underworld. After all, can it truly be a McQueen collection without a dark classical twist?


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