Sunday, October 22, 2006

Magic McQueen

The show of Paris fashion week, for me, was Alexander McQueen. We arrived after dark in a heavy downpour at the Cirque d'Hiver, a 19th century circus venue. But any feelings of tiredness or hunger were quickly forgotten as we settled expectantly into balcony seats rising around a circular wooden stage, over which hung a chandelier.
The musicians at Alexander McQueen's show

A chamber ensemble from London's famed Academy of St. Martin in the Fields - the women dressed in elegant lilac gowns - joined a harpsichord to play Haendel's "Sarabande" (which was used on the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick's movie "Barry Lyndon") as the chandelier pulsated light and rose into the rafters. Models emerged in dresses merging the influences of the 18th century (with Lyndon-esque jackets in pastel tapestry florals), the Edwardian era and characters as diverse as Vegas showgirls and the infamous Marchesa Luisa Casati. The last dress, made entirely from fresh pink blooms, shed petals in the model's wake.
A dress with padded hips

Too much choice! (Photos: Joelle Diderich)

McQueen's shows are more like happenings, in the sense that they straddle the border between fashion and art. It's difficult to imagine buying this kind of dress off the rack, but there were also some great trouser suits and beautifully fitted jackets that can make the transition from boardroom to chic soirée. And McQueen recently expanded his offering with a denim-based diffusion line, McQ.

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