Video: London Fashion Week: McQ by Alexander McQueen autumn/winter 2012
London calling, leaves falling: McQ spearheads a London return for Alexander McQueen.
At the finale of the first Alexander McQueen show to grace London for some years (Royal Wedding notwithstanding), Kristen McMenamy stalked to the centre of a leaf-strewn catwalk wearing a floor-length tulle-heavy white gown accessorised with a quizzical expression.
She stopped. Then she glanced up at the sudden sprinkle of leaves that butterflied down around her, swiveled, bent, and found a white rope hidden within the autumn carpet at her feet. This she pulled, and to a sudden nosebleeed 404 breakdown the plain backdrop was removed to reveal a trees-and-all winter forest at the back of this disused Post Office on New Oxford Street.
There was also a sort of gleaming greenhouse at the back we couldn't see thanks to a pillar. Lord knows what was supposed to be going on, but it was a suitably stagey end (McQueen was a master of fashion show as theatre) for this tantalising hint-of-a-return for our most-famous expatriate fashion brand.
As that designer Sarah Burton - in practical pumps, jeans, and a black sweater - head-bobbed at the end, the local craving for her permanently to relocate McQueen's shows to London emanating from the front row felt almost tangible.
This collection was McQ - the brand's second line - and it is perhaps no coincidence McQ has a new London shop opening in March. Like Stella McCartney's Upstairs Downstairs flash mob on Friday night (she's launching a new fragrance, shops, etc in Britain this year) it was a London return possibly motivated by more than the prodigal's (doubtless) fondness for home.
Love-wise the collection notes heralded "a love story, a love of McQueen and a love of great British style - from military coats to overblown ball gowns."
The military section came first, in two-tone khaki and olive coats, ceremonially-high spit-and-polished boots, a "Black Watch" tartan and some excellent fluffy-epauletted submariners jumpers. Then came the overblown ball gowns, which included the tulle-tastic theme showcased by McMenamy, but in black, ballet-dancer short, and speckled with pick-and-mix colourful flowers.
Together, the staging, that irreverent military parade, the hair (on the women, a hugely horizontal roll), the leaves and the front row - Salma Hayek, wife of Alexander McQueen's ultimate owner François-Henri Pinault, sat just down from Samantha Cameron and Anna Wintour - made for fun addition to the LFW roster.