The snowstorm had passed over New York by Thursday morning—just in time for another, darker cloud to set in: the death of fashion icon Alexander McQueen, who was found dead in his London home. News spread around the fashion world on Twitter, and through the hushed audiences at the morning’s first shows. McQueen’s store in the Meatpacking District transformed into a shrine to its creator: a white sheet hung in the window, and a pile of flowers accumulated on the sidewalk outside. McQueen’s presentation, scheduled to take place Thursday afternoon at Milk Studios, was canceled.
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But the shows must go on. And on they went, beginning with BCBG Max Azria’s powerful collection of color-blocked outerwear. The collection at Chado Ralph Rucci on Thursday featured a fringed fur cocoon coat and structured cropped jackets—staples that also appeared on Yigal Azouël’s runway Friday morning. One of the most buzzed-about young models of Fashion Week, Jacquelyn Jablonski, opened Azouël’s show in a black jacket with gorilla-like shearling sleeves. Cynthia Rowley—who usually presents colorful and feminine clothes—opted for a darker collection this season, which also included tiered fringes and feathers on dresses and tops.
Later on Friday afternoon, Jason Wu took the freezing fashion set down the rabbit hole, sending playful, Alice in Wonderland-inspired looks down the pink carpeted runway. One ombre bell-shaped dress appeared to be dripping in black paint—and looked directly borrowed from the illustrated pages of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece.
More Fashion Week Coverage from The Daily Beast • Day 4• Day 5• Day 6 • Day 7• Day 8The fantasy continued on Prabal Gurung’s runway Saturday afternoon. The show drew an A-list crowd, from Rachel Zoe and Anna Wintour to Zoe Saldana and Barbara Bush. Gurung—a young Nepalese designer who has, in the last season, became fashion’s new "It" boy—did not disappoint: The collection featured a range of looks that showed off both his conceptual talents and skilled tailoring, from color-blocked camel and wool cocoon coats to draped chiffon dresses with gazar ruffles. A collection standout was a strapless nude dress, covered in feathers and Swarovski jewels. “It has been an incredible first year,” Gurung said of the show. “I am here because of the tremendous support from the people who have trust in me. This truly has been a labor of love.”
We’re only a few days in, yet Fashion Week’s schedule has, so far, been exhausting: More and more designers have featured collections away from the tents, which results in a week more spread out across Manhattan than ever before. Because Fashion Week will move to Lincoln Center in the fall, there’s a nostalgia that permeates the tents at Bryant Park. Fashion’s old guard—Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera—have yet to show, but until they do, the excitement is all about the young designers: Alexander Wang, Peter Som, Prabal Gurung, and Jason Wu.
The biggest scene of all, however, may have been Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief show, which raised more than $100,000 to benefit Haiti. Though Campbell scraped the show together at the last minute, everyone turned out: Tickets were sold to the public (and sold out in four days), and—a welcome change—the show featured more boldfaced names on the runway than in the front row. Chris Brown, British singer Estelle, Kelly Osbourne, and many other stars, took a trip down the runway.
Daphne Guinness, who recently wrote a tribute of McQueen for The Daily Beast, channeled Lady Gaga in a gold bodysuit and webbed face mask. Even Donna Karan and Diane Von Furstenberg strutted the catwalk—but stopped to high five each other in the middle. British "It" girl Agyness Deyn lost her footing twice in her high heels—and finally removed her shoes to applause.
The most moving moment of the night, however, was a tribute to Alexander McQueen. Patti Smith’s “Because the Night” began to play, Guinness and Campbell, joined by models Helena Christensen, Karen Elson, and Angela Lindvall congregated on the end of the runway, all in designs by McQueen. “Alexander McQueen” flashed in big letters on the wall behind the runway, and the women—who all appeared to be crying—walked off the runway, hand in hand.