Alexander McQueen: Talent or savvy — which dominates? In the high-stakes, high-chic chess game of fashion, competitors need both as they try to manipulate their way into the most favorable position possible. Alexander McQueen is unquestionably one of the most talented, and multitalented, designers alive, possessor of at least a trifold genius: designer, craftsman, showman. Yet to date he has managed to translate his creative bounty into only a tiny business. Exactly how he will maneuver that reality within the altered state of Gucci Group, which seems focused on growth sooner rather than later, remains to be seen.

For the moment, however, the collection McQueen presented on Friday night gave zero indication of an imminent clipping of the wings. And sagely so, since the show was nothing short of a tour de force during which he dazzled the industry with yet another exhibition of his superlative gifts. As he did a year ago with his dance marathon masterpiece, McQueen went to the movies for inspiration, cross-pollinating “Picnic at Hanging Rock” with “Harry Potter.” From the former, he took the notion of spit-and-polish Edwardian attire, and from the latter, a game of human chess in which the castles wore motocross jumpsuits; the knights, American football gear, and the queens, mini party frocks in states of stationary swirl, mile-high headdresses their proof of office.

But make no mistake: This was no costume parade, but a checkerboard of McQueen’s favorite themes expressed gloriously in exquisite real clothes. Thus, his pawns went eye-to-eye — on one side, yellow-frocked maidens, and on the other, the well turned-out students of “Hanging Rock.” They wore some of the smartest, most unassuming jackets of the season over snap-to-attention crisp skirts and shorts or sensible skirts. Conversely, what girl wouldn’t love to frolic in gentle buttercup ruffles, or a full-skirted patchwork of flowers and paisleys? McQueen also revisited the 18th century for corsets and brocade jackets over full, padded skirts.

Throughout, he lavished the collection with cross-cultural elements, particularly Japanese kimono shapes and embroideries. While most such embellishments require up-close inspection for the fullness of awe to set in, the runway gave ample hints, as in a stunner of a gown in beige silk, its skirt a playground for prancing carousel horses.

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