David Bowie's presence in the world of music may have faded, bar the occasional extravagant repackaging of a classic album or two, but he has taken on a second life in fashion, name-checked more than any other influence over the past few years. Sarah Burton can claim a personal connection. She worked with the man when Lee McQueen designed a Union Jack frock coat for the cover of Bowie's Earthling album in 1997. But for the McQueen Resort collection, Burton went much further back, to Bowie at his most creatively and visually extreme in the mid-seventies.

It was extremity she was after, too. "I wanted to bring everything back to the body," Burton said at a preview in her London studio. "The proportions are extreme: high waists, an elongated leg, a peaked shoulder. There's a harder, more precise, masculine edge that's a reaction to the roundness and the sickly-sweet femininity of the last collection." And so, unsurprisingly, the anchor of the new lineup was the trouser suit, in a masculine/feminine iteration that led Burton inevitably to David Bowie's door. (Check the back cover of Hunky Dory if you're curious.) She acknowledged that, because the collection was the most rigorous she'd ever created, it was more difficult to make it beautiful, especially given that, however "sickly-sweet" her last outing might have been, it also ravished the eye to a degree that is rare in ready-to-wear. It was a challenge she addressed with her usual facility with extraordinary fabrics and embellishments.

Art Deco was an inspiration. A gilded metallic jacquard was cut into a long, lean suit. Another suit was painstakingly embroidered with silvery dots, as iridescent as the wings of the dragonfly motif that was also on loan from the Deco era. An equally gilded symmetrical pattern of cicada wings echoed the Egyptomania that followed the discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922. Never say that a McQueen collection isn't a visual education of some kind. (Come to think of it, that's exactly how each new Bowie incarnation functioned, too.) But if that sounds oh-so serious, the effect was as much Glam Rock as Gilded Age (and that was even before we got to the pieced snakeskin).

The most rigorous parts of the collection were the tailored black pieces. Look closely, however, and their lapels and piping were actually trompe l'oeil encrustations of beading. Still, they were demandingly spare. Hard looks for hard times, perhaps. The eveningwear was long and lean, too. Which is where the Burton Effect came to play, as an extravagant, yes, hyper-feminine counterpoint. A strapless jumpsuit, lavished with avian and floral embroideries, had a forgiving volume. Burton called it a "banana leg." Even more winning: another jumpsuit, also strapless, in a drape of fiery orange jersey so voluminous it threw shade on Bowie's most extreme Kansai Yamamoto outfits. The only possible accessory? The shoes whose rounded transparent heels were filled with glitter.