The centenary of WWI was inescapable in Britain, its most extraordinary manifestation being the red tide of hundreds of thousands of ceramic poppies that spilled into the moat of the Tower of London. It would have been a surprise if no one in fashion acknowledged such a galvanizing moment in pop culture. Equally, it made sense that it would be Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen who transmogrified history into a fashion statement. Her platform was uniforms. There was the obvious military association in army green and air force blue, épaulettes and army pockets, and the diamanté medals that decorated the show's finale. The words "truth", "valour", and "honour" were emphatically bold on jackets and coats. But there were also businessman's pinstripes and houndstooth (albeit exploded into abstraction), and the notion of a uniform of any kind as a great leveler, something to give men a sense of belonging with its democratic breaking down of social codes. At the same time, the designer referenced Regency England, the turning point in sartorial history when army uniforms were adapted by the visionary dandy Beau Brummell and his tailors to create an outfit suitable for everyday life. In Sarah Burton's hands, this significant moment was translated into a military blouson lifted and flared in the back to create tails, like a Regency frock coat. The poppies that are worn for Remembrance Day in Britain were rendered in silk jacquards for suits and coats. She also used the English rose as a floral motif in a crisscross that looked like a bandolier, or a Scottish cross. The rose was woven into a tabard -or protective breastplate- which acted as the third element in a three-piece suit. Sarah Burton's silhouette was built on thick-soled creepers and cropped Steerpike pants, teddy boy-like, a reminder of the gangs, the urban tribes that men belong to outside the military. It was another dip into the past, and yet for all of that this was an Alexander McQueen collection that didn't feel weighed down by history. Yes, there was an element of romantic melancholy (where would McQueen be without that ?), but there was also a peculiar timeliness for a world with war on its mind. And that energized the show and the collection.