We'd heard the McQueen A/W ’09 show was going to be special. But 'special' in fashion-speak usually means a surprise performance from a pop star or a novelty stage set. So, on a rainy Tuesday night in Paris, when Alexander McQueen let loose his latest collection to the world's fashion press, no one was expecting a show so beautiful it would bring a tear to the eye. Happily, that's what we got as McQueen, who turns 40 next Tuesday, revealed his fashion genius with a collection inspired by his own history, and dedicated to his mother. He took the props from 17 years of catwalk shows and piled them in the middle of the large square show space as if to say, ‘I'm done with you.' He then romped through his own archive, revisiting and then improving on his own best work. Every past collection from 1992 onwards got a look-in: from his Givenchy collections to bondage- and bird-inspired shows and, of course, his dramatic signature tailoring. McQueen took polite wardrobe staples like the skirt suit, blouse, coat and strapless cocktail dress and pushed them to extremes of volume and workmanship. There were feathered gowns, exaggerated hound's tooth curvy tailored skirt suits, bin bag-inspired shiny black coats, billowing harlequin-print blouses. Each look was finished with one of an array of amazing Phillip Treacy hats, elevated platform shoes and exaggerated lipstick that made the models' look like beautiful clowns. The result was jaw-dropping. Each outfit was a work of art: so detailed and theatrical that lost-for-words fashion editors layed down their pens and just enjoyed the experience. It's nearly impossible to pick just one highlight, but a dress made entirely from slick white feathers, with a giant collar sculpted to suggest a swan hurtling into flight, reminded all present that McQueen has lost none of his genius. Sublime! Check out the picture gallery below for more key looks from the collection.
- Melanie Rickey