London Fashion Week: Philip Treacy's Comeback Honors Michael Jackson, Stars Lady Gaga

Hat designer's 'Thriller' of a show draws raves

Designs by Philip Treacy during London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013.
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images; Nick Harvey/WireImage; Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
Designs by Philip Treacy during London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013.
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Philip Treacy, the Mad Hatter of British style, made a huge splash at London Fashion Week on Sunday with a Michael Jackson-themed show that even featured Lady Gaga on its catwalk.

The headwear designer's Spring 2013 collection, which opened with a runway strut from Gaga, was dedicated to the mythology of Thriller. A roster of black models, including the iconic Alek Wek, stomped down the runway in Treacy's absurdist fascinators and magically illuminated hats to strains of "Billie Jean," all while wearing Jackson's most famous costumes. In fact, Treacy borrowed the original glittery, military-inspired looks – designed by Michael Bush and Dennis Tompkins – for the occasion. The late pop icon's Captain EO shirt, "Scream" outfit, Thriller jacket and Bad-era breakaway suit were among the items in the show; they will go up for auction on December 2nd in Beverly Hills, California, so Treacy felt inclined to create a millinery collection in their honor while he could.

Though Treacy's whimsical, over-the-top hats have long earned him love from quirky celebrity fans – including Nick Cave, Grace Jones and Gaga– this was his first full collection to show at Fashion Week in a decade. He's been sorely missed, it seems: his is the most talked-about London show so far.

"These clothes were designed to fill a stadium of 80,000 people, yet they are made like haute couture," Treacy remarked to the New York Times. He added later, "It’s the most exciting show I have ever done. It is a gift to have the models wearing the clothes — Michael Jackson did better than anyone the sense of the extraordinary."

Lady Gaga showcases a design on the catwalk by Philip Treacy during London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013.
Lady Gaga showcases a design on the catwalk by Philip Treacy during London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013 in London. (PHOTO: Nick Harvey/WireImage)

While Treacy fashioned his Spring 2013 hats with Jackson's legacy in mind, he also wished to pay tribute to the late Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow. On that level, this show felt like a bombastic, highly produced eulogy to three individualistic icons. Lady Gaga was the cultural ingredient to link them all: a muse and collaborator of McQueen's, an obvious admirer of Blow's (she even mimicked the trendsetter's lobster hat) and an acolyte of Jackson's, she was the perfect choice to open Treacy's explosive return to the London Fashion Week circuit.