Feb 21, 2010
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London opens fashion week with silence for McQueen

Feb 21, 2010

LONDON, Feb 19, 2010 (AFP) - London Fashion Week opened Friday 19 February with a minute's silence for Alexander McQueen, as it mourned one of Britain's most daring and innovative designers who hanged himself earlier this month.

Messages for late British designer Alexander McQueen are pictured on a wall on the first day of the London Fashion Week. London Fashion Week opened with a minute's silence for McQueen, as it mourned one of Britain's most daring and innovative designers who hanged himself earlier this month - Photo: AFP/Ben Stansall

The 40-year-old's death on February 11 was met with shock and disbelief around the world, and no more so than in London where McQueen grew up, trained inspired a generation of new designers.

"I ask you to join me in sharing both respect and reverence for the passing of one of our greatest British designers, Lee McQueen," British Fashion Council chairman Harold Tillman said, using the first name the designer was known by.

"His impact on London and the international fashion industry has been extraordinary. He will be sorely missed."

McQueen's rise from humble beginnings in London's East End to create his own global brand was achieved through "determination, hard work and genius" and was an inspiration to others, Tillman added.

McQueen was one of Britain's most successful and unique fashion exports, shocking Paris as chief designer at Givenchy but winning hoards of fans with his outlandish but always beautifully tailored clothes at his eponymous label.

Any resentment at his refusal to return to show in London -- even years after Vivienne Westwood brought her Red Label here and after Matthew Williamson, Burberry and Pringle all came back last year -- has been forgotten.

The big names have stayed this season, to the delight of organisers who have in the past struggled to make their mark compared to New York, Paris and Milan.

McQueen's death will be marked by low-key tributes this week, with a British Fashion Council spokeswoman telling AFP: "It's all going to be very subdued, he's not even buried yet. Everyone is still feeling very raw."

A message wall was set up in the tent at the 18th century Somerset House where the main shows are held, and was quickly filled with heartfelt notes from visitors that will be put in a book at the end for the family.

"You have taken my heart with you," wrote one; others described him as "a massive loss" and "a constant inspiration" and another said: "Dear Lee. So sorry Time's winged chariot whisked you away -- far too early!"

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's wife Sarah, a champion of British fashion who attended Friday 19 February's opening, mourned McQueen but expressed her "admiration and awe" for the designers showing here over the next six days.

The autumn/winter 2010 collections kicked off as usual with Paul Costelloe, who showed tight black leather and bronze metallic trousers and sequinned shorts matched with a satin black waistcoat.

Full length, masculine coats were rendered sexy with belted waists and worn with leather thigh-high boots, while tiny waisted dresses divided structured and occasionally ruffle-adorned tops and bowl-like mini-skirts.

Caroline Charles showed gold cropped jackets and brightly jewelled, softly tailored shift dresses, contrasted with mannish belted tweed skirt suits in browns and greens.

Elsewhere, London duo Aminaka Wilmont -- Denmark's Marcus Wilmont and Swedish-Japanese Maki Aminaka -- took their inspiration from Cormac McCarthy's novel "The Road" for what can only be described as apocalypse chic.

Models with dishevelled hair were swathed in sexy silk jersey dresses covered in graphic prints suggestive of storms and angry seas, while others wore jackets, sweaters and scarves layered over each other.

Elsewhere, David Koma adorned his trademark skin-tight mini-dresses -- worn by stars such as Beyonce -- with zig-zag strips of black and cream leather on soft wool, and with cutouts showing the ghostly pale models' flesh underneath.by Alice Ritchie

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