Alexander McQueen, England’s most iconoclastic designer, presented a fantastic collection in Paris Saturday that was almost as energetically bizarre as its title, "The Dance of the Twisted Bull."
McQueen’s trip through the bullfighting arenas was no pastiche, however, but a stunning exercise in turning a theme into some commendable fashion.
After 45 minutes, literally, of listening to what sounded like a young woman suffering through childbirth, the show opened with images of a flamenco dancer pounding out a rhythm projected onto a "wall" of dry ice. Out through this miasma strutted a trio of senoritas, attired in almost identical dove gray flamenco dresses, though those dresses were slashed and cut with the unique touch that is McQueen’s.
McQueen’s cutting techniques and fertile imagination then went into full blast: Shirts morphed into dirndl skirts with petticoats, and cotton tops exploded with multiple lace sleeves.
A sense of the absurd has always been one of McQueen’s fortes. This season he whipped up humungous leather bags like giant mushrooms, through which the models put their arms. But his most startling vision was a model in a contessa’s dress, half of which was a man’s jacket, viciously skewered through the middle by two bandilleras.
With Ravel surging out of the soundtrack, the scissors-happy McQueen kept sending out fresh ideas -- tight tops with sides, stomach and neckline shorn away, leather breast plates and a fabulous little black leather jacket pulled in at the middle with an elongated lapel. Simple shapes like white cotton shirts and jeans were given a superb makeover with crystal embroidery.
McQueen ended with a phalanx of sultry Latin ladies in red and black multiple polka dot garments, before Bjork appeared at the end of the show. When the Gucci Group acquired 51 percent of McQueen’s house, they said they bet on McQueen’s unique creative talent. With Gucci president Domenico de Sole sitting front row with his family, this show confirmed what a smart move that was.