Kate Moss for Gucci, McQueen's first show, YSL's last - Marie Claire's Elizabeth Walker has seen it all. Here, she relives her ten best catwalk moments.
Elizabeth Walker was the Executive Fashion and Beauty Editor at Marie Claire for 14 years and has seen it all. Here she shares her 10 most memorable fashion moments:
1. Dolce & Gabbana AW88
‘I saw my first Dolce show in the mid-Eighties – a small collection where the looks were principally knickers, bras and corsets in black. In 1988, the Camera Nazionale della Moda invited them to join the big boys of the Milanese fashion world. This was their first important show and was inspired by Sicilian widows, with clouds of lace and tight satin blouses – prim but uber-sexy. While I wasn’t sure about dressing like a merry widow, I loved the masculine trouser suits, which were a fabulous cut, worn with sky-high stilettos.’
2. Gianni Versace AW91
‘What a glorious line-up of the girls – Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington, all glowing with gorgeousness in baby-doll dresses. The music was rocking and, somewhere, I still have the original CD of the soundtrack. In the pre-Euro days, you could only take a certain amount of money out of Italy, so all the supermodels were paid in shedloads of cash, biked over the border from the catwalks in the Fiera Milano building straight into their private Swiss bank accounts.’
3. Jean Paul Gaultier AW92
‘I remember watching Madonna in the front row of an earlier JPG collection at the Lido, a famous cabaret club on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, and she defiantly wasn’t wearing any knickers – shocking! Jean Paul designed the famous conical bra for one of her costumes on the Blond Ambition tour in 1990; bosoms were definitely on the agenda here, too, in the finale of his show, when the divine diva whipped off her beautifully cut jacket to reveal a perfect pair. I think I would rather have bought a sailor’s striped T-shirt or something in tartan – both looks for which the maestro is renowned.’
4. Gucci AW95
The Marie Claire team stayed in a hotel right next door to the Gucci venue, and the excitement in the lobby and bar was palpable in the hour before the show. We all piled in and sat squidged on the most uncomfortable chairs, but did we care? This was Tom Ford’s third collection for the great fashion house. How I longed for Ford’s teal blue velvet trousers, modelled by Kate Moss; sadly, a bit beyond my means – and none of the clever copies quite cut the mustard.’
5. Alexander McQueen SS99
‘Alexander McQueen, son of a London cabbie and trained at a Savile Row tailor, was one of the most gargantuan talents of recent decades. Each show was greatly anticipated, and I have difficulty choosing one – the hologram of Kate Moss; ‘Dancing with Wolves’ in the dungeons of La Conciergerie in Paris; ‘The Birds’ in an old bus station in Victoria, London; ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’ in Paris, choreographed by dancer Michael Clark – what a dilemma. Here, model Shalom Harlow has her pristine dress spray-painted with graffiti by car robots.’
6. Yves Saint Laurent SS02 Couture
‘The swansong of a great designer – a rather poignant occasion, as the past few collections had been less than inspiring. This show was a retrospective from some extraordinary seasons, many of which I remember quite clearly to this day. In the heyday of the Seventies, collections were inspired by the Ballets Russes and Vaslav Nijinsky, Moroccan fezzes and frogged jackets and, maybe most lusted-after, Le Smoking. In YSL’s final line-up was Catherine Deneuve, dressed in the famous trouser suit – he first met her when he designed the costumes for the film Belle de Jour – and, here, Jerry Hall exuding archetypal old-Hollywood glamour.
7. Christian Dior AW05 Couture
‘An antique gilded coach drawn by stallions pranced on to the stage at the beginning of this gorgeous show by John Galliano. Peering through the window was Erin O’Connor in an Edwardian-style hat. As she is immensely tall and the hat was huge, she had to kneel on the floor of the carriage so she could be seen; she still looked extremely elegant. I’ve seen many memorable Dior shows over the years – a real steam train arriving at the Gare d’Austerlitz; a girl on a swing in a garden, from the painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard; Maori warriors; Scissorhands; tramps – you name it, Galliano took inspiration from it.’
8. Louis Vuitton AW11
‘With a nod to Charlotte Rampling in The NIght Porter, Kate Moss was as sultry as ever puffing on a cigarette in the finale of Marc Jacobs’ fetish fashion show. I was always amazed that, despite the fact that she was never a conventional beauty or particularly tall, Kate can sure strut her stuff with huge aplomb. Even if you didn’t fancy going out to dinner in a pair of big pants and a leather sailor’s cap, there were latex dominatrix boots, serious shoes and all sorts of bags – some shackled to the wrist with diamante handcuffs – from which to choose.’
9. Christopher Kane SS07
‘Christopher’s first show made me proud to be Scottish, though the brilliant neon colours and elastic bandage micro-minis were as far away from dreary Motherwell as you could imagine. It was fabulously exciting to be at the debut of one of the new generation of designers. Donatella Versace was a great supporter and sent a giant bouquet of flowers, as well as shoes for the show. In the past, I had seen the first collections of some of the earlier greats – McQueen, Galliano and Giles Deacon, to name but a few.’
10. Chanel AW13
‘All the world’s a stage at the Chanel show in the giant Grand Palais, a restored exhibition hall in Paris. While the setting was spectacular, the clothes were cautiously chic and very French. Amanda Harlech is the muse of creative director Karl Lagerfeld. She began her career as my assistant on Harpers & Queen many moons ago, before going on to inspire John Galliano. At another show, I spent the waiting hour chatting to the artist Grayson Perry – fascinating but strange to converse with a mannish man in a pink baby-doll dress, lots of make-up and a blond wig.’
Elizabeth Walker’s Style Book II: Pattern and Print is available now.