McQueen's standout Paris spectacular was a highpoint of the season, reinventing his well-established ouvre with an energy and verve seldom approached in international fashion. The centrepiece of his press day was a giant, overblown balloon of duchesse satin, printed with a Escher-inspired optical fusion of houndstooth check and massed ravens lifted straight from McQueen's sinister, Hitchcock-inspired Spring/Summer 1995 collection 'The Birds'. Alongside hung the commercial dissemination of McQueen's extremer-than-extreme vision for Autumn/Winter. Those black-and-white checks bubbled and undulated across intarsia knit leggings and curvy dresses, while dogtooth woven wool was sliced and diced on the bias into strict sheath dresses, boggling the eyes and bending the mind to try and comprehend the seemingly seamless twists of fabric grain. The tailoring as always was an absolute standout this is what McQueen is best at, of course, and what rapidly established his reputation far beyond London.
From a London label that has become an anti-establishment institution (for all the paradox of that sentence) to up-and-coming names that have started to garner similar plaudits. Starworks PR is a newcomer to the London scene that has already attracted Marios Schwab and Peter Jensen to its roster of talent. First up was the latter - and indeed, the eye of a veritable storm of controversy. Although Jensen's clothes are known for their sweet, whimsical naivety, youthful wearability and sense of humour seldom seen in high fashion, for Autumn/Winter 2009 the people of Greenland found something to object to in Jensen's appropriation and adaptation of traditional folkloric-embroidered kamik boots. Unusual, not least because the boots themselves are a sexy (but not vulgar) homage to Greenlandic traditions and the collection itself had all the colour and charm characteristic of Jensen's creations.
By contrast, Marios Schwab's collection was far more prickly, inspired by the somewhat abstract concepts of crystal formation deep below the earth's crust and dual-coloured, three-dimensional prints. Perhaps inspired by those eye-popping qualities, Schwab's short, sleek cocktail dress exploded into asymmetric peplums, sharp bustles and dramatically pointed collars, with black grosgrain dresses occasionally cracking open to reveal fissures encrusted with knuckle-deep layers of precious crystal. If that sounds extraordinary, it was - but alongside extrapolations into fantasy closer to couture than cocktail were strict little black dresses smothered in print, trimmed at cuff in heavy crystal, or encrusted in sequins then uniquely printed with a further pattern. This collection once more stepped up Schwab's game, and it was fascinating to observe both on the catwalk and the rail.