NEW YORK — Naomi Campbell called together her model, designer and celebrity friends to put on a fundraiser Friday night for the relief effort in Haiti, but the most poignant moments of this event, held as part of New York Fashion Week, was the finale tribute to Alexander McQueen.
McQueen was discovered dead on Thursday in London. While he wasn't known to have many close friends in the fashion industry, Campbell, a fellow Brit, was in his inner circle. At the end of the runway show, Campbell walked backstage with tears in her eyes and clutching the hand of fellow model Angela Lindvall.
The last seven outfits in Fashion for Relief were McQueen's, modeled by Campbell, Helena Christensen and Karen Elson, among others – all wearing impossibly high heels by the designer, including one pair of platforms that didn't actually have any heels.
Everything seen on the catwalk at the Bryant Park tents will be sold on the Net-a-Porter Web site, beginning March 15. There is something for all tastes, ranging from the snakelike McQueen cocktail dresses to mens' tuxedos. Gold lame gown? Check. Magenta trench coat? Check.
Black catsuit with thigh-high boots? Double check.
The clothes, though, were secondary here. The audience – mostly paying ticketholders instead of the editors, stylists and retailers that normally fill the seats at fashion shows – applauded loudest for celebrities like Chris Brown and Kelly Osbourne, and designers Donna Karan, Diane von Furstenberg and Georgina Chapman of Marchesa. Actor Alan Cumming wore a kilt, and Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson took a spin in a black gown with gold beading after doing an opening speech about charities such as CARE and the White Ribbon Alliance that fight maternal mortality.
She praised Campbell as a loyal and generous friend. "When Naomi Campbell calls you and says, `Hi Fergie, can you turn up on the 12th?' You turn up on the 12th," she said.
Models who rarely strut anymore, including Maggie Rizer and Agyness Deyn, strapped on their stilettos, too, with the audience cheering on Deyn when she fell twice wearing towering Burberry sandals.
But the crowd clearly came to see Campbell, who did not disappoint. The 39-year-old showed why she was once queen of the catwalk, making a short, black sequined flapper dress practically do its own dance.
Campbell said before the show that she's always nervous before walking the runway, "but just doubly nervous" for the relief show because she had depended on friends to collaborate and wanted everyone to enjoy it.
American Express, which sponsored the show, said 950 tickets – at $100-$150 each – were sold out within three days.