If there is a more haunting experience in fashion than watching Alexander McQueen‘s posthumous Fall/Winter 2010 presentation to a very small group of fashion’s glitterati, I can’t imagine what it would be. Presented in an ornate salon owned by the brand’s parent company, the partial collection of 16 looks was brilliant, as we all knew it would be. It was also, in part, something totally unexpected: angelic.

The collection was inspired by 16th centurty painter Hieronymus Bosch, among other artists, who specialized in religious interpretation and commentary. Some of the patterns actually contained computerized and re-worked prints from the original artwork, including the Bosch masterpiece “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Outside of the professed inspiration, however, it’s difficult to not ascribe a more personal and tragic meaning to the stylized angel wings that several models sported. Indeed, there were otherworldly aspects to many of the looks – pure white, gilded feathers. Perhaps the most pointed reference was in the show’s final look, a golden jacket that could have been made of wings, fluted at the floor by gobs of beaded white tulle.

But this collection was anything but one-note. Alongside the angelic whites were brocaded and beaded dresses in hues of red and gold, plus digitally printed short dresses, seemingly a continuation of the previous season’s much-lauded Plato’s Atlantis collection. The show displayed only a fraction of what McQueen had probably completed, but even in its abbreviated length, it not only demonstrated the designer’s unmatched technical prowess, creativity, and mastery of the female form, but also rendered in stark relief the stunning loss that the fashion industry and the world at large has suffered in McQueen’s death.

Photos via NYTimes.com.

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