According to the program notes, Alexander McQueen's fall collection was inspired by the very different gangs featured in two French films from the nineties: the disenfranchised suburban Parisians of 1995's La Haine, and the sixteenth-century Catholic thugs of 1993's La Reine Margot. If what actually appeared on the catwalk had only the slenderest connection to either of these stated influences, there were certainly plenty of other gang references to be going on with. The first outfit—a hooded gray leather jacket and baggy gray pants—looked like Crips couture. A hooded leather coat with a pattern like an exploded soccer ball was a reminder of the tribalism of Europe's soccer terraces. An ensemble of black leather jacket and pants tucked into high boots suggested a modern-day droog. And the crown of silver thorns that topped a silver leather suit invoked the original gang leader Himself.

The mix of butch and femme was classic McQueen: picture a densely sequined hoodie, or a delicate beaded black tulle T-shirt under a pair of dungarees, or a white leather trench topping a toile de Jouy top. A more straightforward proposition was the frock coat, which he has made his own. It appeared in teal wool, silver satin, and burgundy velvet, all with matching pants. But it's scarcely straightforwardness we expect—or want—from one of this designer's shows. The head of the last model out was wrapped like that of a medieval knight, in a cobweb of black beading. Only McQueen can leave an audience with such an image.