It's easy to set out before a collection so highly anticipated as Alexander McQueen and already have a notion that the replacement (McQueen's protegee Sarah Burton) won't stack up to the original (the late designer himself). In terms of fashion-world status, Burton was joining the Beatles post-Lennon and had big shoes to fill. Fortunately for both the line and the legacy, she did an impeccable job on Tuesday at Paris Fashion Week, where she managed to pay tribute to the brand's heritage and - we hope - dispel any doubts that she was the right designer to fill the role.
Burton described the feeling of the collection as "tender," and true, the painstakingly constructed gowns on her McQueen runway felt a bit more feminine than typical. She maintained some of the sculpted shoulders and hips from the past few seasons, along with the low-rise trousers that often accompanied them. The strong, nature-based prints too were intact. However, the romantic, breeze-through-the-wind dresses (both in solid white and printed with blazes of orange and amber) spoke to a softer customer.
Our highlights from the collection? A woven-bodice, feather-skirted number that moved surprisingly well for something so intricate, and the high-neck Elizabethan ostrich-feather gown with panniers twice as wide as Nimue Smit. A bit of drama, a bit of emotion, with everything perfectly nuanced: that was, after all, the essence of McQueen. We look forward to seeing Burton place her own twist on Lee's strong foundation in the coming seasons.