The dominant presence of a sculpted white bronze orchid and one shaped like an arum flower (hands down the two most erotic blooms in all of nature) by Marc Quinn in the center of the Alexander McQueen catwalk gave the show a frisson of sexual tension even before the first model appeared on the runway. But the mise-en-scène was a tad misleading. Those flowers weren’t so much about sensuality and desire but rather Sarah Burton’s Oriental starting point. Or more precisely, the designer’s own collection of antique kimonos. And so it was that models, their hair slicked back and folded to look like mini obi belts at the back of the head and their faces framed by black lacquer to mimic the look of classic Chinese porcelain masks, took to the glossy black catwalk in traditional Japanese garb. But this being a McQueen show, all the bold flower embellished fabrics were cut with an elegant rigor rather than any cutesy Kawaii geisha style. More samurai warrior, with their black strapped harness topped dresses, cape jackets cut with slit open sleeves and short dresses with rounded armor-like short sleeves and stiff skirts, then Kabuki theater. Japan and its traditional dress a theme that Alexander McQueen had visited more than once during his lifetime. But here in Burton’s hands there was just a touch more ease to the eye-catching designs. Her kimonos elegantly adorned with circles of cherry blossom were cool and yet still approachable. Her cut out bloom embellished harness topped dresses were softened via a skirt of ruffling petal and tiny flower appliqué alighting on the fabric. This dramatic collection was all about the beauty of strength. How a woman can be strong and powerful without ever having to give up her femininity. It’s an area the McQueen brand is proving itself to be very adept at interpreting for the fashion world.