My all-time favourite McQueen gown, Oyster Dress, Spring Summer 2003
It is in the Metropolitan Museum of New York
Alexander McQueen with his mother
Gorgeous gown, Autumn/Winter 2006
I cannot believe I am writing this post. My favourite designer is dead. Alexander McQueen, 40 years old, was found dead at his home in London today, 9 days after the death of his beloved mother. McQueen always seemed so in control and defiant of everyone, it makes it even harder to believe he is simply gone.
Alexander with Isabella Blow
Escher inspired print at his recycled runway, Autumn/Winter 2009-2010 show
An incredible talent, he made his way through the turbulent waters of the fashion world, always on the rise; seemingly nothing could stop him. He was born in 1969, the youngest of six in Hackney, London, in 1969; dad was a taxi driver, mom a teacher. He became interested in fashion as a child and very soon he was a young apprentice at the Saville Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard, then Gieves & Hawkes. There he made suits for the Prince of Wales amongst others (legend has it he wrote "I am a cunt" with a ballpoint pen in the lining of one of the Prince's suits). He did a small stint at Koji Tatsuno at Paris before going to Milan to work at Romeo Gigli.
Back in England in 1994, he applied for work at Central St. Martins but was encouraged to enroll as a student. His graduation collection was bought by fashion legend Isabella Blow, who was to become his friend, mentor and muse.
A selection from his work throughout the years
His infamous "Highland rape" collection in 1995 drew the fashion world's attention. The result of his theatrical but exquisitely tailord concoctions was a much coveted position at the helm of the Givenchy fashion house, right after John Galliano left for Dior. The tenure was not without problems: he called Hybert De Givenchy, one of the most revered and gentle men in Haute Couture "irrelevant", his first collection there was a failure. But he build his reputation slowly, managing to outsmart his critics.
One of his quirky handbags
Bjork "Homogenic" album cover, photo by Nick Knight
Never happy with the management, he left for the Gucci group and his own label in 2001, where he enjoyed critical and financial success, opening boutiques across the world, releasing his perfume and accessories line. His oeuvre, dark and romantic yet thoroughly steeped in the modern, grimy world, enchanted people and made him popular to all. Even Puma and MAC cosmetics approached him for designing collections for them.
Stage for one of his shows
His first perfume, Kingdom
Nick Knight photograph
His chess-board fashion show, Spring/Summer 2005
Luggage designed for Samsonite
December 2008 Vogue US editorial with Roberto Bolle as Romeo and Coco Rocha as Juliet,
shot by Annie Leibovitz
Bjork, photographed by Nick Knight
I love his clothes: his collections were the ones I anticipated the most during fashion week. The outfits, dark and looking like stepping a fine line between fairy tales and science fiction, yet somehow, one could always find very wearable tailored pieces in his collections. His evening dresses were fantastic mash-ups of a variety of influences, with most prominent his love for victorianna and a morbid fascination with death - taxidermied animals, bones, whole skeletons, sculls etc, were always present in his collections.
You can read about my favourite collection of his in another post I made. His loss is a great one, not only for his family and friends, but for fashion lovers and people who appreciated his talents. He had lots more to give and I believe we had not seen the best of him yet. He will be sorely missed.
Bye bye Lee