Admiring Sarah Burton's latest collection for Alexander McQueen (A/W 2014)—with its ethereal fairytale-like qualities—vividly reminded me of a Vogue Germany editorial by Mario Testino from 1993. With Nadja Auermann playing the princess and Kristen McMenamy her prince, that season's haute couture was used to recreate a Shakespearean world of fantasy. Though shown during prêt-à-porter the McQueen collection is itself a form of demi-couture, full of intricate handmade textiles and artisanal flourishes, and can be seen as a rather dark evolution from the elaborate ballgowns and suits used in the earlier story by such luminaries as Christian Lacroix, Gianfranco Ferré for Christian Dior, and Ungaro.
Similar mostly for shared references, passion for embellishment and a woodland setting, the McQueen a/w 2014 collection and 'Traumspiel (A Dream Pay)' are indicators of the long and continuous influence of fairytales and past centuries on contemporary fashion.
The beauty in Burton's collection is in the way she looks to the past for both form and technique, but the clothes never seem hindered by this—the fairytale, Renaissance and haute couture references merely serve as vehicles to help her create a new vision of womanhood that remains wholly 'McQueen' yet also wildly feminine.
All photos: (L) 'Traumspiel'—photographed by Mario Testino, styled by Edgar Otte with hair by Marc Lopez and makeup by Tom Pecheux. Vogue Germany, December 1993. (R) Alexander McQueen A/W 2014 Collection.