Dynamic designer Alexander McQueen has never been afraid to court runway controversy, but his fall 2008 collection is fit for courts of the royal variety. Inspired by a recent trip to India and his 600-year-old elm tree, McQueen imagined a dark fairytale and fashioned the rise of a princess, from frizzy-haired wood nymph to enchanting empress. The transformation is evident, as McQueen’s ‘princess’ displays a full spectrum of spellbinding looks: Victorian structure and sensibility, lavish Oriental elegance, flouncy Russian ballerinas and otherwordly monarchs. Masquerading down the runway were black, body-hugging princely suits, dark velvet dresses and brocade jackets; red velvet coats adorned with antique Indian gems; empire-waist saris with sheer ‘harem’ pants; tufts of tulle on frothy-yet-rich ballet frocks; extravagant ermine toppers and sparkling czarina gowns. It’s bewitching to watch the fairytale queen emerge, but even better? In the midst of all the opulence, the show depicted plenty of wearable looks—with or without a dose of fairy magic.