If you had told Beyoncé in early 2020 that she would appear on the cover of British Vogue wearing an Alexander McQueen evening jacket inspired by the hearts engraved in Welsh love spoons, she might not have believed you.
But 2020 was nothing if not full of surprises, and the Edward Enninful cover star of December 2020 has more in common with the beloved cutlery of McQueen artistic director Sarah Burton than you might think. “The heart is a universal symbol of strength and love,” Burton tells British Vogue. “Beyoncé is an icon who inspires both of these things in people of all ages around the world.”
Kaia Gerber models the dramatic evening jacket before making her McQueen AW20 runway debut.
The black wool and silk tailored jacket with trompe-l’oeil overlapping lapels and sculpted heart sleeves in red double duchess satin is from the fall / winter 2020 collection, for which Team McQueen traveled to Wales to get the creative juices flowing. “We were inspired by its incredible artistic poetic heritage, folklore and craftsmanship,” Burton says of the brand’s legendary seasonal research trip. “This jacket symbolizes the juxtaposition of feminine power and sensibility, with sleeves hand-draped in the studio to form shattered hearts. The body is tightly fitted and the shoulders are sculpted, echoing the love spoons we found in Welsh homes – traditional tokens of tenderness exchanged by lovers before marriage.
Close-up of the overlapping trompe-l’oeil lapels and the heart-shaped draperies.
The wavy drapery of the sleeves took several efforts to finesse, as the team viewed photographs of historic spoons and Welsh houses painted red (to ward off evil) glued to the McQueen moodboard. Burton found the stark contrast between the jet black body and the blood red sleeves of the final jacket disarming. “I had no idea what the symbolism of the color red, with its symbolism of power and protection and healing, all of which feel so essential for the times we live in today,” she says. Beyoncé, a pillar of pioneering strength, is an unlikely but appropriate poster for the dominant color: “Welsh red”.
British Vogue’s December issue hits newsstands on November 6.
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