11 February 2010, 11:54
I was so, so sad to learn that Alexander McQueen, “the hooligan of English fashion”, has passed away. He was 40 years old. It is said that he committed suicide, though that hasn’t been confirmed.
McQueen wasn’t just a fashion designer, he was an incredible artist with irrepressible spirit, humour & bravery. He was also one of my favourites… & it’s easy to see why.
There is an apocryphal story that McQueen once sewed the words “I am a c*nt” into the sleeve lining of a suit he was working on for Prince Charles. (Source.)
The son of an East End taxi driver, he started making dresses for his three sisters when he was a child. He is said to have been discovered by the iconic Isabella Blow, who bought every single piece of his first collection. “I bought one thing a month & paid him £100 a week. He’d bring an outfit in a bin liner, I’d look at it & then he’d come to the cashpoint with me,” she said. Isabella committed suicide in 2007, after having been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
“When you see a woman wearing McQueen, there’s a certain hardness to the clothes that makes her look powerful… It kind of fends people off. You have to have a lot of balls to talk to a woman wearing my clothes.”
His runway shows were unlike any other, featuring shipwreck recreations, human chess games & life-size holograms. He was to show his McQ collection at Milk during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, which started today.
Karen Elson in Alexander McQueen, photographed by Tim Walker.
McQueen toned down his act at Givenchy, but continued to indulge his rebellious streak, causing controversy in Autumn 1998 with a show which included car-robots spraying paint over white cotton dresses, and double amputee model Aimee Mullins striding down the catwalk on intricately carved wooden legs. (Source.)
The self-described “pink sheep of the family”, McQueen won British Designer of the Year four times, & his vision & unapologetic rebellion made him a darling of the fashion industry. He will be sorely missed.