Alexander McQueen's Autumn Winter 2011 finale
Cast your minds back to March last year when Alexander McQueen's Autumn Winter 2011 show closed during Paris Fashion Week amid a cloud of frothy white dresses. At the time, we wondered whether it was a coincidence that the collection featured gowns with full skirts, crystal-embroidered bodices and billowy sleeves of chiffon fit for a royal bride just one month before Kate Middleton was due to wed her prince.
You'll remember it was at that very time when frenzy surrounding The Dress had reached fever pitch thanks to persistent rumours that Sarah Burton, Creative Director at Alexander McQueen, was secretly working for the Duchess. On April 29th, we found out that indeed she was - but what we didn't know is that the matchy-matchy collection was no coincidence. In fact, Burton planned the all-white finale as a crafty cover-up.
Grazia's Paula Reed has discovered that Burton purposefully decided to feature a bridal-esque section so that there would be a reason to order in exquisite white fabric – and tonnes of it – without raising suspicion. Isn't that genius? The admission came from Hamish Bowles, who was unveiling the Dress of the Year at the Bath Fashion Museum last week.
And not only did Sarah Burton manage to fool us, she even bluffed to Anna Wintour herself. Yeeks! ‘Anna looked Sarah in the eye – an experience that would jelly the marrow of bigger people – and asked, "Are you designing Kate Middleton’s dress?" and Sarah said, "I am not doing the dress,"' Mr Bowles revealed. 'So Anna was telling everyone, "Sarah told me she’s not doing the dress, so she’s not doing the dress." Now Anna admits Sarah did an amazing job.'
And what is the Dress of the Year, you ask? None other than the Ice Queen creation that closed McQueen's Autumn Winter 2011 spectacle. It features an ivory tulle bodice fully embroidered with individually crafted 3D organza feathers and a skirt consisting of 31 panels hand embroidered with miniature eagle motifs. Wowee.
As Mr Bowles says: 'Nowhere are Sarah Burton’s unique skills better exemplified than in this magnificent dress that dazzlingly updates the tradition of the robe de bal, looking back to the crinolined Second Empire creations of Charles Frederick Worth and the mid-century masterworks of Christian Dior, but with a cut, technical treatments, and embellishments that are uniquely twenty-first century.'
'It is a dress of exquisite beauty,' Bath Fashion Museum Manager, Rosemary Harden, says. 'This is what fashion is all about. All the craftsmanship, expertise and vision coming together in this wonderful dress which is now on show for everyone to see.'
Yes, the jaw-dropping dress, together with a selection of previous winners, is now on display at Bath Fashion Museum - and we say it's well worth the trip.