McQueen banishes models from the catwalk
Monday 19 July 1999
His haute couture collection for the house of Givenchy was shown on showroom mannequins with gleaming Plexiglass heads, which emerged from holes in the floor on rotating turntables.
It was a bold move given the modern enthusiasm for models, when the likes of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell to Gisele, the Brazilian It Girl, and Lisa Radcliffe, the new face of Calvin Klein, have their every move catalogued by the media.
The atmosphere resembled nothing more than a cool and serene museum exhibit: a marvellous romp through fashion history all stamped with the forward-looking signature that has made the designer famous. This could not, of course, have been more timely. This was the last Givenchy haute couture collection of the millennium, taking from the past while looking forward to the future.
McQueen's inspiration was Paul Delaroche's painting, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey. "I first saw this painting 15 years ago," he said. "Being a hopeless romantic, the emotion evoked that day has never left me." It is no coincidence that Grey's nine-day reign stretched from 10-19 July 1553 - she was beheaded some seven months later - and that this was therefore an anniversary.
The clothes made ample reference to the period: there were Tudor-inspired pie-crust collars, leg-o'-mutton sleeves and pouffed, quilted capes that would suit a modern-day queen of couture down to the ground. McQueen being McQueen also couldn't resist throwing in 1930s vampish Hollywood bias- cut gowns, 18th-century frock coats and oriental touches - kimono sleeves and wide obi-style belts.
Now in his fifth couture season for Givenchy, the designer knows how to showcase the workmanship of the couture atelier to the full: re-embroidered and beaded lace; slashed leather and a tartan cape constructed out of feathers were all exquisite, rightly applauded by the international fashion press and couture clientele.
Earlier in the day, executives from Hermes were very much in evidence at Jean Paul Gaultier's haute couture show. Last week, Hermes invested pounds 15m in Gaultier's company - Hermes now owns one-third of it - so that the designer could afford to develop his loss-leading haute couture line. He has previously funded it himself.
Hermes will not be disappointed - the designer and former enfant terrible has never seemed so assured, sending out an exotic and opulent mix of skinny knitted dresses and coats encrusted with beads, glossy black velvet evening wear and the immaculate tailoring that made him famous.
Even though this was his most mature collection to date, Gaultier still managed to demonstrate his trademark wit. This came in the form of trompe-l'oeil cardigans, a Barbarella-inspired evening dress emblazoned with "Couture 2000", clear plastic raincoats printed with black lace and long leather evening gloves, which doubled as holders for mobile phones.
However, this was not a collection for the faint-hearted. Although haute couture is, at the best of times, hardly politically correct, full-length crocodile dresses that creaked when models walked, rare plumage embedded in more crocodile and a sweeping fur ballgown skirt made for savage if beautiful viewing.
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party is the right choice for you
General election: Conservatives mocked online over Boris Johnson's claim of SNP 'jockalypse'
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...