The first time I saw an Alexander McQueen show I was frightened. Gothic figures walking the run way, spikes going into the mouth of a model, capes with shoulders 5 feet wide that are only made in nightmares, models faces painted bright white with heinous eye make up akin to Marilyn Manson and more. I knew I would never wear his designs and didn’t want to even expose my eyes to the creepy images that I had seen. Who was this guy and I could just imagine what he must look like. Well, turns out he is a perfectly normal young man that no one would ever be uncomfortable sitting next to in the subway. Alex would be just 50 years old today if he were still with us.
Alex was an extremely talented British clothing designer. He worked at Givenchy from the late 1990’s to 2001 when he founded his own label in 1992. He achieved designer of the year awards numerous times and his designs were and are still beloved by celebrities, royalty, socialites, and the rich and famous in general. Tragically Alex committed suicide by hanging in 2010 at the young age of 40.
For those not familiar with McQueen’s designs off hand, all you have to do is remember David Bowie’s wardrobes for his tours in the late 1990’s. That was McQueen. Singer Björk also contracted with McQueen’s for the cover of her album around the same time, and yes she was the gal who came to the Academy awards in 2001 dressed as a swan that we all remember.
It was McQueen’s early runway collections that created his reputation for controversy and shock tactics, for instance one of his collections was called “Highland Rape” which was not appreciated by the Scotch and other notable shows were a human chess game; but his biggest long lasting design was the use of skulls into design. A scarf displaying the motif became a celebrity must-have and has since been copied around the world as we all know. Now we see it in interior design all over the place: lamps, accessories, art, and more.
Despite all the controversy and designs that may not appeal to all, hidden in each garment is the attention to detail that I appreciate. If you’ve ever had on an important McQueen garment you know what I mean. It is built with integrity that makes you feel like a million dollars. The architecture of a McQueen garment, or other high end luxury designer (like Mugler, my all time favorite), cannot be overstated.
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