by Alexander Fury .

PARIS FASHION WEEK: The Walk Through at Alexander McQueen

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Fashion, to an extent, is Darwinian. It's all about the survival of the fittest. And, after 10 years in the wilds of Parisian fashion (including his period at Givenchy), Alexander McQueen has proved his talent can tough it out with the best of them. Darwin formed a central theme to his S/S 2009 show - witness the Museum of Natural History-style taxidermied tableaux and incessantly spinning globe that formed the backdrop. However, rather than Darwin's evolutionary theorems, it was McQueen's own twisted take on 'Unnatural Selection', namely the destructive influence of mankind on nature, that gave the show its focus. It was an ambitious and overarching concept, and one that could easily hang heavy on the hemlines of any catwalk, but McQueen ran with it and made it his own. Perhaps it suited so well because his woman has always been a survivor and because McQueen has always proffered femininity with bite. Whatever the reason, the collection had a touch of the acidic anger of McQueen's early shows, brutal, visceral assaults on the senses that hit the back of the throat. The collection developed ideas of human intrusion and modification subtly, germinating from a soft naturalistic palette of beige, flesh and white to harder, more artificial shades. Sulphur yellow, sickly petroleum blue and acidic red seeped into prints like bacterial spores, while said prints - straited colours on floating georgette and chiffon - spiralled around the body, looking one moment organic, then architectural, then suddenly skeletal. The cut too became more hard-edged, banishing soft curves and attenuating the line. The transformation was finally complete by the finale: a sequence of fitted trousers, moulded mini-dresses and finally a throat-to-ankle catsuit smothered in hard, cold crystal. McQueen talked about the Industrial Revolution, and indeed there was an oblique Victorian slant to many of these garments. The silhouette, according to McQueen, was moulded around a Victorian dressmaker's dummy, and the frock-coats, backwards-jutting silhouette and corsetted waists all evoke that era - and, of course, are found in McQueen's best work. Indeed, even the modernism of the collection, the monochrome engineering prints like shadows cast by the steel infastructure of the Eiffel Tower, seemed to be seen through Victorian eyes; the future as imagined by Jules Verne. For all it's apocalyptic imagery, McQueen's show was by no means dour. For those in love with his femininity, the ruffled silks and tulles, soft woodgrain-print frock coats and whitework embroidery will all suffice. But it was in the harder synthesis of man and nature that McQueen managed to work magic, offering a glittering, glamorous vision of hard, untouchable artificality that at once seduced and repulsed. Lest this all sound too grim and foreboding, a finale to The Pink Panther theme - accompanied by Mr McQueen in a giant white rabbit suit - proved he hasn't lost his sense of humour. He just has more important matters on his mind.