The wonderment was tangible at Sarah Burton's accomplished and vibrantly colored ready-to-wear show for Alexander McQueen. Feather explosions that ballooned in three dimensions spelled awe for spectators.
The inspiration for the fall-winter collection presented Tuesday was said to be the "rippling underbellies of mushrooms," but like the house's spring collection it looked more like a coral reef.
The teeming feel to the fibers blown by the movement of walking models painted a scene of anemones and medusas in a sea-palette of ice white, soft blue and crimson. The peplum of one blush pink dress, with a metal pincer belt, recalled the layers of a jellyfish, and the tooth of an octopus. At several points the audience gasped.
"It was exhilarating," said Hal Rubenstein, InStyle magazine fashion director. "With talent like Sarah's you just sit back and relish the sense of fantasy. No one else has it."
Horse hooves _ feathered platforms without heels _ and visors reminiscent of horse blinders added danger to the visual repertoire.
A voluminous black trapeze coat in Mongolian hair had the heavy, almost muscular feel of a cantering horse, with a large equine bussle that moved from side to side.
With silhouettes changing shape from every angle and bold ideas, it was by far the best example this season of a designer at the top of her game. It also was a show carried out in the spirit of McQueen, who committed suicide two years ago.