Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Designer Diary- Alexander McQueen (1969-2010)

Posted by Elisabeth Bass at 01:00
'Love looks not with the eye but with the mind', a quote from Shakespeare's A
Midsummer's Nights Dream and tattooed on the arm of the late Lee Alexander
McQueen. Perhaps a foretelling analogy in 'love looks' and the interpretation
of McQueen's art- the perfectly structured fashion, breathtaking couture and the
spectacles of his runways.

Lee Alexander McQueen, a British Fashion Designer and Couturier proclaimed
at a young age, while making dresses for his sisters, that he would become just
that. At 16 years of age he left school to pursue an apprenticeship on London's
famed Savile Row. McQueen became a master tailor, where his clients included
Prince Charles and Mikhail Gorbachev. He then joined theatrical costumiers
Angels and Bermans before travelling to Milan to work for Italian Fashion

Designer Romeo Gigli.


In 1994 McQueen pursued a position at Central St. Martins College of Art and
Design to work as a pattern cutter tutor. Instead, he was pursued to enrol in the
master's course as a student, he received his masters degree in fashion design.
McQueen's graduate collection, based on the film Taxi Driver was shown for the
 first time at the Ritz London. The collection was purchased in its entirety by
well known fashion stylist Isabella Blow.


McQueen succeeded John Galliano at Givenchy in 1996. He experienced little
success with his first couture collection actually telling Vogue in October 1997
that the collection was "crap". McQueen's designs at Givenchy were more
conservative than his independent work leaving a longing for rebellion;
Spring/Summer 1999 McQueen spray painted over the white cotton dress of
double amputee model Aimee Mullins as she made her way down the catwalk on
two carved wooden legs. McQueen's contract with Givenchy ended in March 2001.

However eccentric McQueen was accomplished; he was one of the youngest
designers to be recognized as 'British Designer of the Year'. He actually received
this honour four times between 1996 and 2003. He was awarded the CBE
(Commander of the Order of the British Empire) and named by the Council of
Fashion Designers in 2003, International Designer of the Year.


Under the labels Alexander McQueen and McQ, known for skull prints and
'bumsters'; by 2007 McQueen had boutiques in London, New York, Los Angeles,
Milan and Las Vegas. A plethora of celebrity patrons included Lady Gaga, Bjork,
 Rhianna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz. McQueen
created pieces of creativity that defied main stream fashion- going against the norm
made him a trend-setter.

Tragically on 11 February 2010 McQueen was found dead in his home. His
housekeeper found his body, hung, in his wardrobe with his favourite brown belt.
His mother had passed away nine days before from cancer, her funeral was to be
the very next day. Friends of the designer said that McQueen "was doing a lot of
drugs and was very unhappy". He had previously taken overdoses in May and
July of 2009. McQueen left a note simply saying "Look after my dogs, sorry,
I love you, Lee.”


On May 4th 2011 through to July 31st 2011 the Metropolitan Museum of Art's
Costume Institute will feature “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty”. The curator
- Andrew Bolton described, to Vogue, McQueen's catwalks as “spectacles that
would leave you breathless, hovering on the edge of credulity, faintly repelled
and utterly enthralled.” The exhibition is arranged interpretively, not
chronologically. Galleries will include “The Savage Mind”, “Romantic Gothic”
and “Cabinet of Curiosities”


From madness came monumental art and through tragedy a deeper appreciation
 for his work. This Designer Diary is dedicated to Alexander McQueen- one of
the great artists of our time.


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