Amy D. Jackson
Usually, stories start at the beginning, but not this one. Every detail of Alexander McQueen’s biography exists in his designs: his birth, his life, his love. Some people have defining moments. Alexander McQueen defined every moment he inhabited.
On February 10, 2010, the death of Alexander McQueen devastated the fashion world and broke the heart of every fashionista in training. Alexander McQueen began his fame training by becoming Isabella Blow’s protégé, who was a Fashion stylist for British Vogue. It was there that he met a young Plum Sykes (American Vogue Editor and novelist) who would become his lifelong friend. McQueen was encouraged by Blow to use his middle name Alexander (instead of Lee his given name) to obtain his fashion dreams.
Alexander McQueen began his career at Savile Row where his cliental included Prince Charles. He would go on to work for Koji Tatsuno and Romeo Gigli in Milan Italy. In 1997, McQueen designed the cover of Bjork’s album Homogenic. He would also direct Bjork’s music video Alarm Call. McQueen earned the reputation of “l’enfant terrible” and “the hooligan of English Fashion” with his theatrical runway shows like the legendary “Highland Rape.” In his 2003, fashion show McQueen did a recreation of a shipwreck. His 2005, spring collection was a human chess board. In 2006, at his fashion show “Widows of Culloden” he featured a life sized hologram of muse and friend Kate Moss draped in yards of writhing fabric.
McQueen’s “bumsters” created the low rise jeans frenzy. He also became well known for using skulls as his signature crest. McQueen’s fashions shows were always about the high drama. He was one of the first designers to include Indian models in his shows. However, McQueen’s arriving moment was when he became the designer for Givenchy. After a failed Givenchy fashion show in 1997, McQueen promised to muzzle his feral designs. McQueen acquired his ‘bad boy fix’ through the controversial 1998 Autumn Givenchy show. The show included car-robots that sprayed paint onto white cotton dresses. His choice of model raised a few eyebrows. Aimee Mullins a double amputee strode down the catwalk on elaborately carved wooden legs. The McQueen Givenchy fashion marriage would not last and the partnership would soon sever.
Alexander McQueen was one of the youngest fashion designers to achieve the title “British Designer of the Year” four times from 1996 to 2003. In 2003, the young designer was honored by Queen Elizabeth II when he was named Commander of the British Empire. After establishing himself, many of his clients included Nicole Kidman, SJP (Sarah Jessica Parker), Madonna, Rihanna, Penelope Cruz and Lady Gaga. Again he would collaborate with a certain Fashion Editor who had once modeled for him. McQueen would design his dear friend Plum Sykes’s breath-limiting wedding gown. In this wedding creation he poured his heart. McQueen designed a dress worn by Camilla Belle that was deemed one of the “100 Best Dresses of the Decade” by Instyle Magazine.
Alexander McQueen was found dead on February 10, 2010 due to an apparent suicide. Many speculate it was because of his mother’s recent death (a week earlier). McQueen was really close to his mother Joyce McQueen. Alexander McQueen is survived by his father, two brothers, and three sisters. He will be greatly missed by the fashion world and fashion worshippers in all the land(s). There shall never be another like this libertine of fashion. He has joined the ranks of Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, and Sargent. He was a true artist with the King Midas touch.