Alexander McQueen

Today at their AGM PPR came out and did two things that I don’t think any other luxury brand has done so far: publicly put its money where its mouth is, officially committing to a group of specific environmental goals for the Group to reach by 2016 and announcing them for all to see (and measure, and wave critically in the air in the company fails to fulfill them), and financially committing to a carbon off-shoot company by buying a 5% stake in Wildlife Works Carbon and getting a seat on the management committee. It all sounds great, but what does it really mean?
 

This morning, looking at pictures of Kate Middleton in the black and white lace Alice Temperley gown she wore for her first royal film premier yesterday (Steven Speilberg’s “War Horse”), I was struck by the fact that it seems the Duchess of Cambridge only wears British designers for dress-up. There’s an interesting choice here.  

British Fashion Awards 2011 - London. Sarah Burton with the Designer of the Year award. Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

Sarah Burton, Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards 2011. Ian West/PA Wire

Take a wild guess who won the designer of the year award at the British Fashion Awards last night. Yup, it was Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. A well deserved win, given her acclaimed royal wedding dress and the sensitive way in which she has interpreted Alexander McQueen’s legacy, but not really a surprise. It was the first of many not-really-a-surprises at the awards, held in London’s Savoy hotel, which is probably a good thing, indicating that there is a consensus behind which British names are ones to be confident about.

Mary Katrantzou, who won the Emerging Talent – Womenswear award, is fast becoming a highlight – if not the highlight – of London Fashion Week. Not only are her bold and unusual prints arresting, they are also tailored to be highly wearable and fairly commercial. The question of when a designer is no longer deemed to be emerging can be a problematic one though; there’s often no clear moment when they become – like a butterfly from a chrysalis – fully formed. 

It’s November — which in magazine-calendar-speak means December issues, which in turn means Best-Dressed Lists. Yahoo! First out of the blocks is Harper’s Bazaar UK, and guess who tops the list? Yes, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is perhaps the most unsurprising choice ever. Because really, let’s be honest: best-dressed lists are not just about being best-dressed, and the Duchess isn’t the best dressed woman in the country.

 

If you don’t know Nicola Formichetti, aka the artist formerly known as Lady Gaga’s stylist, you will very soon. He has plans for world domination. Not I didn’t say fashion world domination. He’s gone way beyond that.

 

It had to happen, I suppose. Post the huge-public-love-fest associated with the Kate Middelton/Prince William wedding, and the corresponding publicity and sales boost it delivered to many associated fashion brands from Alexander McQueen to Launer, maker of the Queen’s buttercup handbag, it seems every other English designer is hoping a royal nuptial association might have a similar knock-on effect. Any royal nuptial association.  

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wore Alexander McQueen again to the royal couple’s “hotly anticipated” black tie BAFTA dinner in L.A. As a super-secret dress choice, it was a little anti-climatic compared to the wedding reveal, but as a choice that could have meaningful repercussions for McQueen the business, it was pretty significant.

After all, you know the rule: once (the wedding) could be a fluke; twice (the sailor dress in Canada) is a coincidence; but three times (last night’s gown) makes a trend. And the winds of trend are indicating that the newest, most-photographed, royal family member has settled on McQueen as the brand that will define her style. 

Since this is a royal wedding, every little bit of the royal wedding dress actually has symbolic meaning, and roots in different parts of British industry.  

So the answer is in: Sarah Burton did indeed make Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. A major British brand for a new British royal.

 

Royal Wedding Day minus 1 and slowly the sartorial chips are falling into place.