McQueen replaces pyrotechnics with razor-sharp display

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The Independent Online

Alexander McQueen is fashion's greatest showman, and his spectacular presentations are the stuff of legend. But last night at his autumn/winter show McQueen passed on the pyrotechnics in order that his virtuoso tailoring ­ for instance, a precision-cut black tweed coat with an haute couture-style sack back, or pencil skirts that fitted like second skins ­ might take centre stage at his venue, a vast school hall.

Alexander McQueen is fashion's greatest showman, and his spectacular presentations are the stuff of legend. But last night at his autumn/winter show McQueen passed on the pyrotechnics in order that his virtuoso tailoring ­ for instance, a precision-cut black tweed coat with an haute couture-style sack back, or pencil skirts that fitted like second skins ­ might take centre stage at his venue, a vast school hall.

Taking his inspiration from Tippi Hedren, the heroine in Alfred Hitchcock's films, McQueen concentrated on a sexy yet uptight style synonymous with the late 1950s/early 1960s, for example in his tight "sweater girl" primrose yellow or royal blue angora dresses. Seamed stockings, backcombed hair and thick kohl eyeliner underscored the retro mood, as did a Motown and skiffle soundtrack accompanying models walking above the audience before sauntering down to the hall.

Navajo-style ponchos trimmed with pompons and skin-tight jeans were a nod to the emergence of the teenager in the 1950s, while a leopard print trenchcoat or a fringed gown were a romantic view of working-class glamour.

Rather than conclude with a theatrical flourish, as has been his tradition, McQueen instead made the commercially savvy move of sending out stunning fish-tailed gowns, in black or scarlet taffeta and tulle, which will boost his presence on the red carpet.

Karl Lagerfeld unveiled an uncharacteristically cosy and covered-up collection for Chanel earlier. In keeping with the mood at Paris fashion week, he kept to a sober palette of black, white and grey. Wrapped from head to toe in woollen tweed skirt suits, cashmere leggings, scarves and matching ski hats, the army of models was both chic and sensibly dressed.

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