Grief and hope at McQueen's final show

PARIS (Reuters) - British designer Alexander McQueen’s dazzling final collection was shown in a sombre setting on Monday, weeks after his suicide, with the fashion house’s chief executive saying there was no talk of a successor.

British designer Alexander McQueen a during Milan Fashion Week, June 28, 2004 REUTERS/Daniele La Monaca/Files

Inspired by the Old Masters of painting, the autumn collection of dramatic red and gold gowns, gold feathers and Venetian capes paid homage to his extraordinary skill and love of the theatrical.

“We’ve been really focusing on this, on finishing the collection, we haven’t been thinking beyond that,” Chief Executive Jonathan Akeroyd told Reuters, visibly moved after the show in a discreet villa on a side street by the Seine.

“In the next few weeks, we are going to be working on the way ahead, but we’ve just really been concentrating on this presentation,” he said.

Asked about rumours that the Alexander McQueen label, owned by French retail giant PPR, had already started looking for a successor, Akeroyd vigorously shook his head and said: “No, no, no.”

PPR has pledged to continue to develop the McQueen brand, and boutiques have reported booming sales of his clothes and accessories since his death in February.

McQueen’s Atlantis-inspired spring collection of insect-printed dresses and sea alien shoes has just hit the shops, and Akeroyd said sales were “very strong.”


While McQueen was often described as a fashion rebel -- he once staged a show called “Highland Rape” -- his last creation showed the designer at the height of his powers, celebrating life and art with rich colours and spectacular draping.

A dramatic red dress was embroidered with thousands of gold discs that rustled eerily with every step, while a golden coat made entirely of feathers fanned out into a white skirt.

Deep red, black or white fabric was embellished with gold and pulled back to reveal a feather skirt, a richly embroidered dress or a glimpse of flesh.

“It was all inspired and developed and all patterns were cut by Lee,” Akeroyd said, using McQueen’s given first name.

“It was well under way and the development was very much in final stages, so it was just about carrying on finishing the pieces ... we had four weeks to finish his work, basically,” he said, describing the experience as intense and incredibly difficult.

Last year’s Atlantis-inspired show was staged by McQueen with characteristic flamboyance -- there were robotic cameras shifting across the stage, following models on claw shoes.

Monday’s display felt more like a memorial service, as assistants choked back tears and journalists sat in silence.

“He very much had a vision for his show concept, but it didn’t feel right to do that without him,” Akeroyd said.

“We decided this was the best way to do it in a very low profile environment -- the most appropriate way in light of what has happened.”