The ghost of Kate Moss looms above McQueen show

Kate Moss loomed large over the designer Alexander McQueen's autumn/winter collection which was shown in Paris last night. The world's most famous model, and McQueen's great friend, danced in a glass pyramid, surrounded by a cloud of billowing chiffon, appearing for the first time on the catwalk for years.

Of course, McQueen being McQueen, there was a catch. Moss in person was, in fact, nowhere to be seen. Rather than stalking the bare floorboards alongside her contemporaries, she had been filmed prior to the show and away from the crowds and her image was projected via an optical device, widely known as Pepper's Ghost, an effect first employed by the mid-19th century chemist John Henry Pepper for a production of Charles Dickens' The Haunted Man.

The model's other-worldly presence aside, this was a deeply personal show. Following a run of highly commercial, conventional runway presentations, this saw a return to the unbridled spectacle and raw power with which he made his name.

Any emotional charge was only enhanced by the fact that the proceedings were dedicated to "the widows of Culloden". McQueen is proud of his Scottish heritage and this is the first time he has explored this particular subject since the controversial Highland Rape collection, shown in his hometown of London in the late 1990s. Today one of the world's foremost designers, it was at that point that he shot to international acclaim.

With all this in mind, then, it is small wonder that the clothes themselves harked back to a time when, as a young, independent designer, McQueen felt free to express his imagination to the full. Since December 2000, when he went into partnership with the Italian luxury goods conglomerate the Gucci Group, he has been under immense pressure to deliver clothing and accessories that not only inspire but also appeal to a broad, international audience.

For McQueen, a fashion talent who has always relied on obscure references and an aesthetic that is fiercely challenging, this has been a steep learning curve. The fact that, with Stella McCartney and Balenciaga, also Gucci Group acquisitions, his company is required to break even by 2007 only adds to any pressure.

Still, the designer once again proved himself more than man enough for the job. This was clearly his way of saying that commercial clout didn't necessarily mean conventional wisdom or, indeed, overly simplistic clothes. And so last season's body-conscious, short sharp silhouette was replaced by a return to the brand's core values: the effortless juxtaposition of fragility and strength, masculinity and femininity and a dark, even eerie, romance which is quintessential McQueen in flavour.

There were wasp-waisted jackets and sweet little bell-shaped skirts that swung at the hips when models walked. These were crafted in the McQueen tartan, neatly enough, and softened by tiny silk ruffles at collar, cuff and hem. Then came the torn chiffon and lace sheath dresses which are the envy of any beautiful and bright young thing the world over.

More sober - though equally lovely - was eveningwear crafted in liquid black velvet, cut close to the body but never restricting it, and signature tweed tailoring that looked as sharp and sexy as might be expected. Feathered head-dresses, sky-high skinny-legged boots and tousled chignons finished a look that was a perfect balance between the theatre for which this particular designer is known and loved and the business brains with which he has taken a small, avant-garde label and, in just a few years, transformed it into a globally recognised concern.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems Developer Technical Lead

£65000 - £70000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Energy Engineer

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...

Techincal Accountant-Insurance-Bank-£550/day

£475 - £550 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Technical Accountant-Insuran...

Sales Representative, Leicester

£25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment