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McQueen takes a cool view of Y2K

EXACTLY A year ago, Alexander McQueen turned to the film Bladerunner for inspiration, transforming Givenchy Woman into the world's most glamorous Replicant. This time she was more alien still.

Shock-white make-up and identical Cleopatra wigs meant that the audience could barely recognise the world's most beautiful women. McQueen had matters millennial in mind at his autumn/winter 2000 show in Paris yesterday.

Caroussel De Louvre - the official location of the Paris collection - was clad in pristine white with a vast mirrored floor. The look was every bit as other-worldly. The clothes were cool and hard-edged, though - the odd showpiece aside - cleverly commercial, none the less. Signature strong-shouldered trouser suits came this time in dove grey and white; tailored dresses with circuit-board patterning were rather less fierce.

While McQueen's own-label collection was more romantic than it has been, this was anything but. It will suit the moneyed customer with a yen to out-power-dress her lily-livered contemporary. Fashion's man of the moment has found the right balance between his eponymous line and the more mainstream Givenchy collection.

Earlier, Stella McCartney showed her fourth collection as design chief for Chloe - and what a contrast it was to McQueen's. The girls sashayed rather than stomped down the runway in fresh, sexy outfits, hair loosely pinned, faces glowing.

Sir Paul McCartney was there, alongside Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg and Patsy Kensit. Indeed, the rock-chick wives were out in force, clapping loudly as they witnessed a collection seemingly perfected for them. Pin- sharp suits in pale blue or lemon cord, or jeans appliqued with tigers on the pockets, demonstrated McCartney's sure- footed style. It was her best collection to date.