A charity catwalk show at New York Fashion Week at the weekend, became a salute to the late British designer, Lee Alexander McQueen , who died suddenly at his London home last week.
The show, Fashion for Relief/Haiti, was organised by the British supermodel, Naomi Campbell, a global ambassador for the White Ribbon Alliance charity, and close friend of the designer, who said she was “devastated” by the news.
“It’s just so sad. I can’t believe it. He was the best, ” she said. The list of more than 140 designers who donated clothes for the charity catwalk extravaganza was a roll-call of the biggest names in international fashion, including Versace, Gucci, Christian Dior, Burberry, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier, Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, Manolo Blahnik, and Roberto Cavalli.
But the spotlight fell on "The Magnificent Seven" – a group of seven spectacular designs from McQueen’s last-ever collection, “Plato’s Atlantis”, originally shown during the Paris prêt-à-porter season last October.
Naomi Campbell joined a cast of supermodels, Helena Christensen, Karen Elson, Angela Lindvall, Heidi Mount, Sasha Pivovarova and Natasha Poly, in a moving finale, paraded to Patti Smith’s “Because The Night”.
The designs demonstrated the wilder shores of McQueen at his technological and creative best, inspired by Darwin’s theory of evolution, featuring brilliantly-coloured computer-prints of serpents and bizarre sea-creatures, and accessorized with “barnacle boots”, in python, encrusted with crystals and jewels.
The girls were joined by the McQueen muse, the heiress, Daphne Guinness, her tear-stained face veiled in white tulle, who wore a dazzling, silver-sequinned catsuit, specially made for her by McQueen.
“This is my memory of Lee. He only finished it for me two weeks ago. It was a belated birthday gift and I will always treasure it. It’s probably the last piece he ever made in his life,” she said.
Opening the show, which was streamed live on aol.com, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, paid tribute to the designer.
“I know this has been a very sad week,” she told the sell-out, 1,000 strong audience at the fashion tents in mid-town Bryant Park, who had paid up to $150 dollars a ticket. “This is for him tonight. I know Naomi is very grateful you are all here. All I can say is – to Alexander McQueen, thank you, thank you.”
The Duchess joined a cast of celebrities and designers who made cameo catwalk appearances, including the designers, Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg. Georgina Chapman, wearing a corset and tutu from her Marchesa red carpet collection, was cheered from the front-row by her husband, the Hollywood movie-mogul, Harvey Weinstein. Also on the catwalk were Kelly Osbourne, the actor Alan Cumming, the singers Estelle and Chris Brown, and Margherita Missoni, the ambassadress for the Italian family knitwear brand.
Victoria Beckham made a special visit backstage to show her support, but was unable to appear on the catwalk because she is putting the finishing touches to her latest collection which will be shown in New York tomorrow.
Many of the models, who had appeared in McQueen’s catwalk spectaculars in London, New York and Paris, fought to hide their emotions.
“I can’t stop thinking about it. I just feel like crying all the time,” said the flame-haired, Manchester-born Karen Elson, who is married to Jack White of The White Stripes.
“I just can’t believe he’s gone. It’s so terrible, so tragic. He had so much to give,” said the young British model, Agyness Deyn, who earlier in the show had suffered not one, but two tumbles from her Burberry platform-sandals. She eventually took the shoes off and, smiling and giggling, continued her catwalk appearance bare-footed.
The Fashion for Relief/Haiti show will be repeated in London during London Fashion Week, on February 18, and most of the clothes will be sold on net-a-porter.com from March 15.
It is hoped to raise more than £1million which will go to the women and children of Haiti via the CARE charity and the White Ribbon Alliance, which Sarah Brown, the wife of the Prime Minister, is a patron of.