She Builds Domes in Air

In this 16mm film by the acclaimed artist Catherine Sullivan, Kristen McMenamy stalks the darkly delicate world of the Alexander McQueen spring/summer collection – Sarah Burton’s third and most celebrated yet.

The spring/summer 2012 issue of AnOther Magazine presents an exclusive Alexander McQueen special, with stills from Sullivan's film accompanying an intimate conversation between Burton and AnOther's fashion features director Susannah Frankel.

Here we preview the article with an extract from their conversation, which appears in full in the issue, on sale tomorrow...

“Yes, I feel 2011 has been great,” Burton says. “It’s been a very emotional time and it’s great to still be here, to still be successful.”

“The winter show was quite hard,” she says, “This one is about extreme femininity. It’s a celebration of women really, of extreme embellishment and how a woman’s clothes may almost become her. I wanted to focus on all the techniques, the embroideries, the pleating, the finish, in a slightly fetishistic way. She’s not a woman for a man. She’s definitely a woman for a woman. Some of the looks were masked, you couldn’t quite see her. That was very Lee in a way. He took away the personalities of the models themselves and created an army of McQueen women. In this case, though, the fabrics were lighter. The masks were made out of lace and their fragility enhanced any beauty, I think.

“Each piece was really special,” she continues. “When you look at the clothes close up, you’re not quite sure what you’re seeing. This fabric here (she points to a metallic organza skirt) was pleated, woven, destroyed and then pleated again. We had to pleat this one (she points to a second) five different ways to make it right. This is all hand-bulleted and then put on a base. This funny little orange one, with all the ruffles, was cut on a circle. The McQueen woman doesn’t want to feel casual. It’s not that kind of world. When you put on the clothes, they make you stand differently, feel differently. It was about how to do that but make it feel light. I’ve always been part of Lee’s romantic side, that’s what I love. Although there are elements of this collection that are quite dark, even sinister, there’s always a romance to it, a delicacy. Empowerment and protection: working here, you always have to bring it back to Alexander."

Click here to view an exclusive making-of film of the current issue of AnOther Magazine's cover story featuring Jessica Chastain