THEY came in sky-high heels and huge dark sunglasses and even managed to flash a little cleavage from their deep black mourning outfits.
The world's fashion elite gathered beneath the magnificent dome of St Paul's Cathedral yesterday to celebrate the legacy of Alexander McQueen, the troubled British designer who took his life in February.
The crowd included a Who's Who of fashion central: American ' Vogue' editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, models Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, designer Stella McCartney, ' Sex and the City' star Sarah Jessica Parker, and dozens of other devotees.
The event brought London Fashion Week to a halt. No one wanted to show a collection while industry giants marked the passing of McQueen, an iconoclast and Britain's most celebrated, controversial and outrageous designer.
Those who could wore McQueen outfits, including some of his signature tartan. Many women wore his beautiful black shoes, some offset with the gold chains and impossibly high heels he favoured.
Wintour, elegant in a black and gold ensemble, said McQueen was never satisfied with his work and always vowed to do better, even when he had broken new ground with one of his shocking and sophisticated shows.
"We always forgave Alexander," she said after describing how McQueen failed to show up for his first-ever American 'Vogue' photo shoot and then told editors he couldn't care less about the magazine -- one of the industry's most influential publications.
Only later did she find out that McQueen had not come to the photo shoot because he was receiving unemployment benefits and didn't want to jeopardise his payments.
"His final collection was a battle between dark and light. His was an 18-year career of harnessing his dreams and demons. But he has left us with an exceptional legacy, a talent that soared like the birds of his childhood above us all."
No one spoke directly about the reasons behind his suicide, but it was clear from the eulogies that McQueen had been a complex, occasionally tormented individual. He had a history of depression and was said to be devastated by the death of his mother on February 2. His body was found in his London apartment nine days later.
'International Herald Tribune' fashion editor Suzy Menkes commented on the "misogynistic" quality of one of McQueen's last shoe designs, the notorious 10-inch "lobster claws". Indeed, model Daphne Guinness, wearing McQueen heels, took a tumble outside the cathedral.