Couture Fashion

McQueen’s Elizabethan Inspiration


By Diane Small

With its clever cultural and historical style references, Alexander McQueen is fast becoming the intellectual fashionista’s favourite brand.


Noted last season by her unique take on a bee-keeping theme, Sarah Burton’s creativity was once again demonstrated in the the McQueen FW 2013 collection, this time, with its take on Elizabethan style, characterised mainly by bejewelled fabrics, ruffled collars, corseted waists, white lace, and importantly, headpieces.


In the 17th century, women had a wide range of head coverings to choose from: the coif, or ‘biggin’, a cap constructed of simple white linen with a strap to fit tightly under the chin; the ‘French hood’, a crescent shaped band adorned with lace or pearls, sloping away from the face; or the ‘Crispine’, a cap made of netting and often decorated with pearls or spangles, used to cover the back of the head.


It seems Burton was especially inspired by the latter, which she created for outfits in both black and white, but she added a bondage twist to this previously pious cap by adding a bejewelled cage/veil to cover models’ faces.



The coifs that lay below these elaborations also mirrored the tightly curled style of the Virgin Queen:  “The hair itself was in fact a wig styled with pin curls, and then we made these elaborate cages… This hairstyle is one to support the look of the show, it’s not specifically just the hair itself that should be highlighted here. You really have to think about the hair as it fits in with the masks, the collection, and the overall end result the designer envisioned,” said Redken Creative Consultant and master hairdresser Guido, who was responsible for the hairdos worn by the models in the show.


Elizabeth ruled in the 17th century, sending out explorers to the New World in search of land, trade routes, and a quest for precious metals and spices. She was a powerful woman, and her clothing communicated that clearly. Sarah Burton has aimed to harness that power, and her intellectual curiosity and ability to take risks ensure that the house of McQueen will always remain in the Age of Discovery.


Main images: Beauty Press

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    Jul 4, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    […] the Elizabethan era, exploring British heritage and history to recreate modern grandeur, much as Sarah Burton did at Alexander McQueen. The accessories are large, intricately woven, dimensional pieces, with metallic flourishes and […]

  • Reply
    Nov 10, 2013 at 5:32 am

    Highly energetic article, I liked that a lot. Will
    there be a part 2?

  • Reply
    Dec 11, 2013 at 4:08 am

    This post actually made my day. Gorgeous stuff! <3 McQueen!

  • Leave a Reply