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c.2012 New York Times News Service
PARIS — For 32 outfits, each one to do with a bee and its business, Sarah Burton kept her point maddeningly hidden. You noticed the small honeycomb pattern of jackets, the wasp-waist organza in buttercup and poppy, the molded harnesses in dark amber.
But it wasn't until the end of the Alexander McQueen show that she made it perfectly clear what the buzz was about, with the Archies' "Sugar, Sugar."
It was a nice touch of British humor; after all the immaculate tailoring and the serious level of craft, it's good to be reminded that the object of beautiful clothing is to attract. With each season since taking over the label two and a half years ago, Burton, who is expecting twins in February, has grown in confidence. She is now free to tell her own sexy jokes.
Burton has stayed glued to McQueen's fantastical mode, and she is absolutely right to do so, despite those regular nudges from editors that she do "more wearable clothes." That is ridiculous. In the first place, her spring bee suits and bustiers are wearable. She decided to remove the interfacing and peaked shoulders that McQueen favored in his tailoring.
''Whenever I pick up a jacket and it's heavy, I think, 'Oh, I don't want to wear that,'" she said, smiling. One style of jacket is in a honeycomb jacquard with nearly invisible vents of black organza, while another is composed of layers of organza.
Both have a sculptural shape that reflects the McQueen silhouette, but they are incredibly light. They could be worn with honeycomb-net pencil skirts or one's own black trousers. And in case you are wondering, the McQueen company plans to sell undergarments designed specifically for semitransparent pieces.
After last season's chiffon riot, it was great to see Burton take on tailoring, which was McQueen's strength, and bring feminine smarts to it. The jackets are worth checking out.
Other details in this collection that deserve a close-up look are a black silk evening bustier and slim day trousers embroidered by hand in England. The naive white-threaded pattern was based on one that Burton found on a Victorian corset. Again, it doesn't look like anything else around.
The creative blast of the Paris spring shows continued until the end. Miu Miu may have been a dud — too many incomprehensible '50s coats, fur stoles, beach tops and crinkly midcalf silk dresses that looked culled from past Prada collections. But Marc Jacobs' Louis Vuitton show, on Wednesday, was visually grabbing, with many grid patterns on a grid stage, and over in five minutes.
On a site-specific installation by the artist Daniel Buren, with a gleaming bank of escalators, Jacobs presented outfits in pairs, or twins (a nod to the Diane Arbus photographs of twins). Although some of the linear '60s shapes resembled his collection in New York, with more strictness and color, the idea of duplication was fascinating. It was also a good eye game, successfully repeated in surface textures, like flocking and the deep-pool shimmer of evening pieces embroidered with thousands of tiny sequins.