Saturday, March 04, 2006

McQueen's Highland Fling

There are designers, and there are artists. Alexander McQueen, already squarely in the artist camp, solidified his position today with a spectacular Scottish inspired collection that had both Victorian and Rococo undertones, yet was unmistakably modern. From the feathered shoes to the feathered headresses, McQueen's interest in falconry was clear - but it was far from gimmicky (even though it is highly unlikely we will ever see those hats on the street).

During a season of somber, neo-gothic or minimal looks, McQueen's pale, muted palette was a breath of fresh air, and the superb craftmanship and detail looked more like couture than ready to wear. With this collection, McQueen took his Hitchcock heroines of seasons past and sent them through a fashion time machine, picking up the best bits and pieces along the way.

The hair and makeup was kept relatively simple - those without headresses had ballerina buns or simple ornaments, and all the makeup was fairly natural. With clothes like these, obvious makeup would simply be too much. The dishabille styling of the show highlighted the clothes to their best advantage - nothing looks as modern as a glamorous worn as casually as jeans.

The finale of the show was McQueen's tour de force, however. He used an old smoke and mirrors trick called "Pepper's Ghost"; it was used in circuses a century ago in order to trick audiences into believing there was a ghost in the room. In McQueen's show, the apparition was Kate Moss in one of the designer's ruffled tulle gowns, and she closed the show in spirit from a glass pyramid. It was performance art and fashion at their finest.

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