LONDON - In the world of women's fashion, London often plays second fiddle to other style capitals - it lacks the allure of Paris's haute couture or the polish of Milan's luxury labels.
Yet when it comes to dressing the gentleman, no city can rival the British capital's heritage.
Alexander McQueen on Monday led the new season's menswear catwalk shows in London, a four-day fashion display that mixes trendy labels like Tom Ford, Burberry and Moschino with traditional tailoring houses that have been perfecting their craft for decades.
Organizers want to highlight both new talents and London's status as the historic home of men's fashion - a city that has dressed a long list of kings and the world's wealthiest men and invented classic items like the tuxedo jacket, the bowler hat and the three-piece suit.
"Men in this city have always made a point of dressing well," said Henry Poole & Co. manager Simon Cundey. "We're very lucky in London - no other city in the world has a suiting street like this."
McQueen showed stark white lab coat-like jackets accented with sporty prints and squiggle shapes, and punk-influenced outfits in red and shiny black leather - clothes that at first sight appeared anything but traditional. But many of his looks, like the waistcoat worn over an untucked shirt and the fitted double-breasted suit worn with sneakers, were clever takes on the best of classic English tailoring.
London's menswear week has expanded impressively since it broke away from the main womenswear fashion showcases in 2012. This year it started Sunday and runs until today, followed by other men's fashion shows in Milan and Paris.
Still, there's no denying that designer or bespoke menswear is far from accessible to the average man. Asked what sartorial advice he could give to those without deep pockets, Cundey said: "Invest in quality, not quantity."
"There are three things you need in life. A good day-to-evening suit, a tailored blazer or coat, and a tuxedo," he said.