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02.11.10

Alexander McQueen's 10 Best Shows

The late fashion icon was famous for groundbreaking performances on the runway. VIEW OUR GALLERY of 10 of McQueen's most magical moments.

Spring/Summer 1997: Walking on Water

Models walked through water in structural and sheer garments, evoking both an early tribalism and futurism. In signature McQueen fashion, the collection featured both the functional and the bizarre, with wooden face cages, spray-painted boleros, a top seemingly made of stringy bubble gum and, the show-closer, bubble girl: a model trapped inside a massive cube.

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Spring/Summer 1999: Spray-Painting Robots

Couture collections are undeniably art, but rarely do they become art on the runway. McQueen's Spring/Summer collection in 1999 introduced a single model, spinning before the crowd in a strapless white dress. Slowly, she was circled by robotic guns, and gracefully hosed down with spray paint. She left the runway dripping with paint.

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Spring/Summer 2000: Models Take Flight

As he wound up his time with Givenchy, McQueen was ready to fly solo—a sentiment the models in his Spring/Summer 2000 collection mimicked. In ethereal gowns of blues and reds, the models flew above audience members' astounded heads looking much more like acrobats than walking hangers. The designer showed once again that he was willing to take expectations for the runway show to new heights.

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Fall/Winter 2001: Circus Freaks

McQueen turned his Fall/Winter 2001 collection into quite the circus. As a trifecta of red rings began flashing, a carousel of models was revealed in the center of the stage. With heavy clown makeup and ruffled colors, the women carefully stepped off their high horses amid clusters of balloons. They looked every bit the court jester with their hair shaped into tall cones, but McQueen's collection was certainly no joke.

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Spring/Summer 2003: Paint the Rainbow

Although he had left Givenchy and also shed 30 pounds, McQueen did not lose his flair for runway drama with his narrative Spring/Summer 2003 runway show. What began as a pirate-meets-Shakespeare-inspired collection, featuring neutrals and ruffled collars, soon turned into a vibrant display of tie-dye dresses and jumpsuits on the massive white floor. The models' looks stood out against the colorful, colossal screen, looking like birds of paradise in the row.

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Spring/Summer 2004: Dancing Down the Runway

Demonstrating true showmanship, McQueen brought performance to the runway when he presented his 2004 Spring/Summer collection. Staged on the hardwood floors of a 19th-century Parisian dance hall, Salle Wagram, the designer had Michael Clark choreograph a reenactment of Sydney Pollack's Depression-era movie They Shoot Horses, Don't They? for the runway. The models not only displayed McQueen's lamé, hip-hugging cha-cha dresses, feathered skirts, and pink corseted tutus, but also what two weeks' worth of practice can do for a fashion tour de force.

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Fall/Winter 2006: A Virtual Kate Moss

Perhaps Kate Moss herself didn't make it to McQueen's Fall/Winter 2006 show, but the designer had her make an appearance via hologram after the collection debuted. Models strutted around a pyramid in romanticized Renaissance-looking pieces—voluminous ball gowns, plaid prints, and tiers of lace and ruffles—until the lights dimmed and the audience's attention turned to the geometric structure. Soon, a silver, statuesque Kate Moss appeared via hologram, swimming in fabric and floating before an amazed audience.

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Spring/Summer 2008: Angel Wings

Forever the dreamer, McQueen created a magical scene for his Spring/Summer 2008 show that seemed to fly off the pages of a fairytale. As fluorescent wings flapped behind the runway, McQueen's model minions displayed his gray and red garments until the glowing beams changed color to deep reds and blues, matching the tone of the collection. Victoria's Secret angels have nothing on the high fashion McQueen brought to his show.

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Fall/Winter 2009: Luscious Lips

With McQueen's runway show for his Fall/Winter 2009 collection, the fashion icon was not afraid to give some serious lip. In a twisted, Alice in the Wonderland-esque showing, the models showed off garbage can lids and umbrellas as headgear and enlarged lips. The classic black, white, and red quilted and houndstooth fabrics contrasted the over-the-top looks above the neck as the models walked around a black painted pile of discarded goods.

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Spring/Summer 2010: Introducing the Armadillo

After McQueen's last show, showing off his Spring/Summer 2010 collection, the fashion world was abuzz about the mastermind's inclusion of what has since been deemed the armadillo shoe that each model sported down the runway. Dwarfing even the tallest of stilettos, McQueen once again outdid himself with this footwear, which Lady Gaga donned in her "Bad Romance" music video. The display of the other-wordly collection, which he called "Plato's Atlantis," was broadcast live online, giving everyone access to the designer's wondrous work.

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