A starry spectacle for the return of the hatter
Lady Gaga, shrouded in pink tulle, walked slowly down the catwalk. The entire audience at the Royal Courts of Justice held its breath.‘Ladies and Gentlemen!!!’ she bellowed, ‘the greatest milliner in the world, Philip Treacy, in the clothes of Michael Jackson!’
It was by far the most dramatic opening to a fashion show we’d ever seen. Gaga. MJ. The return to London of one of its most prodigious talents. It was almost too much to take, and then the real show began. A show so fantastic that it almost – almost - consigned the Gaga opening to a footnote.
With an all-black cast of models, we saw a parade of Michael Jackson’s greatest hits – the clothes, that is, from his stage tours. From the narrow-waisted drummer boy jackets to the leather trousers, the electric blue suits to the heavily embellished boleros, all the iconic looks – created by designers Michael Bush and Dennis Tompkins – were present and correct.
But this was no museum display – this was a proper resurrection. Philip Treacy had worked with Bush to bring the clothes back to life by creating a hat for each outfit. If ever there was a daunting task, then injecting new life into the vestiges of a legend would be up there. But Philip Treacy succeeded in making those clothes sing once again.
Oh, the hats, There were huge swooping Swarovski star rings and ornate golden headdresses that belonged in ancient sacred rituals. There were plumes of feathers and crystal-encrusted masks. LED lights and primitive warrior masks. There was even a shimmering ivory ship with sails billowing that poignantly recalled the late Isabella Blow.
Alek Wek brought huge applause when she came out wearing a Swarovski crystal Michael Jackson glove hat, and one on her hand which incited her to throw some serious shapes for the cameras. Everyone was dancing, from the swaggering models who each had their own take on the King of Pop, to the rapt front row.
The glitzy front row was made up of starlets like Kelly Brooke, Kim Cattrell and Delilah flanked by revered fashion figures: Vivienne Westwood, Sarah Burton and Gareth Pugh all came to support the Irish designer, while music legends Brian Ferry and Nick Rhodes represented the charts.
It was almost too much to take when the lights dimmed and a full gospel choir began to sing for the finale.
Their notes hit the rafters. I BELIEVE, they sang. But we shook our heads, as we really couldn't believe what we'd just experienced.