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A great designer is one who is able to capture the essence of the time in which he lives. The powerful imagination of Alexander McQueen had no sense of time. Because of that, he became a visionary. This month the British designer would turn 50 years old.
Beyond his well-known work, Alexander McQueen did not have an easy life but he always tried to hide it. His childhood was marked by the bullying that his classmates did to him for being homosexual and by the sexual abuses bu the ex-husband of his sister, Janet, when Lee was only 9 years old. Recently, Janet confessed that everything her brother lived with the abuser led him to focus more on fashion, creating clothes that would make women scare people.
It has been nine years since Alexander McQueen decided to take his own life in his home in London, one day before his mother’s funeral. But before leaving, hw made sure his brand could continue without him. Sarah Burton, who worked as his assistant, became the creative director of the British house. Although there was only one Alexander McQueen and replacing him was a great responsibility, collection by collection Burton shows us that she is the right person to do it.
Since always, the dream of McQueen was to create an empire at the height of Yves Saint Laurent’s, and he made it. His spectacular fashion shows, with budgets that exceeded two million dollars, made him gain popularity while, in fact, he was doing what came out of his soul. For his latest collection he even planned his own suicide on the catwalk in a kind of performance. By the end of that show, he thought of appearing inside a transparent box and shooting himself in the head in front of all the attendees. Although his idea never came true, he has always shown us his darker side and his obsession with death. Still, he knew how to perfectly reflect the difference between the two figures: the person (Lee) and the character (Alexander McQueen). These are the ten most iconic moments of the British artist:
Our admiration for both the person and the character has led us to compile the ten most iconic moments of the British designer:
1. First collection at Central Saint Martins
When he graduated from Central Saint Martins he had already founded his own brand. In the fashion show of his first collection, entitled “Jack the Ripper stalks his victims” Isabella Blow was among the public, editor of British Vogue. She was so amazed by the designer’s clothes, some pieces had human hair, that she bought the entire collection. This gesture was the beginning of a complicated friendship between both. After the show, Blow called McQueen’s house eight times a day to convince him to design with the name “Alexander” and not “Lee” because it sounded better. That’s when he starts using Alexander McQueen as his stage name.
2. He made the collection Haute Couture of Givenchy 1997 in 25 days
Alexander McQueen was not one of those designers suck up to Anna Wintour, nor did he had any problem talking bad about others. In fact, he did not hesitate to criticize other brands, even saying that Givenchy was a garbage. But life is capricious and ended up being creative director of the French house. In 1996, McQueen made the haute couture collection “The search for the Garden Fleece” of 55 looks in just 25 days.
3. Wet Spring 1998
It was the first collection to be presented at the Gatliff Road warehouse in London. It was also the first time that Swarovski and American Express sponsored their show. In addition, Sebastian Pons, who would later become McQueen’s best friend, had just joined the team. At first, the collection was going to be called “The Golden Shower”, but the title bothered the sponsors for its sexual connotation, so it was presented as “Untitled“. The thunders were the protagonists as the rain fell from the roof, soaking the models who had black mascara running down the cheeks and the clothes they wore became almost transparent.
4. Painting in Spring 1999
Possibly one of the most special and iconic moments of McQueen’s professional career. It was not just a parade but an art show. The Shalom Harlow model was used as a human canvas. No. 13 was the name of the dress that Shalom wore in the form of a trapeze with a belt above the chest that, as a curiosity, the designer dedicated to his dog Minter. Two robots came alive sprinkling paint on the white dress while the model was motionless in the center of a rotating platform. The performance got everyone emotional, including McQueen himself.
5. Autumn 2003
For its fashion show in Paris, the designer put on the catwalk an elevated tunnel with transparent walls. During the show, the models paraded both inside the tunnel and the track below. What nobody imagined is that the tunnel was, in fact, a wind tunnel. The last model had to fight against strong air currents representing human frailty and strength at the same time.
6. Spring 2005 was a game
This time, McQueen changed a traditional catwalk for a chessboard to present a romantic collection inspired by the Edwardian era . The models instead of parading, were exchanged on the board, maybe that’s why the collection is called “It’s only a game”.
7. Kate Moss in a hologram Autumn 2006
Without a doubt, it is one of the moments that will go down in the history of the fashion. After the scandal “Cocaine Kate”, the designer friend of the model decided to pay tribute to her with a hologram located inside a pyramid in the center of the catwalk. A magical moment, many of those present thought that Kate was really there, demonstrating, once again, the infinite creativity of McQueen.
8. Spring 2007
The collection inspired by Barry Lyndon, Goya and Marchesa Casati merged historical references with modern elegance . McQueen understood the current needs of a romantic dress creating a sense of lightness. In spite of the constant references to the exaggerated silhouettes of 1860, 1880 and 1950 he always remained contemporary thanks to his innovative sensibility.
9. Last collection Spring 2010
His last show is considered a masterpiece. The collection entitled “Plato’s Atlantis” was above any time frame with truly avant-garde garments. This was the first parade that was broadcast on the internet, the streaming page SHOWStudio collapsed within seconds of its start. Two cameras on robots were responsible for recording the catwalk, on which stood the armadillo shoes, the fetish creation of McQueen. These 30-centimeter heels are inspired by Darwin’s theory of evolution, therefore the designer created with them a new specie of futuristic humans. But it is not the only time that the armadillo shoes were the center of attention, we did also see them in the video of “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga that, in fact, is the song that closes the show.
10. Exhibition at the Met in New York
A year after his death, the Met made an exhibition about the designer called “Savage Beauty”. This homage in the popular museum has only been achieved by fashion geniuses such as Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent or Cristóbal Balenciaga. However, McQueen’s exhibition was by far the most successful. The museum had to open it to the public on rest days and extend the visiting hours until 12 at night.