Had he lived, Alexander McQueen would have celebrated his 46th year in the past fortnight. But the Brit fashion “wildchild” and master of both tailoring and fierce, warrior women garb suicided in February 2010. His fashion legacy has been continued authentically through the designs and vision of his assistant Sarah Burton, who took the reins soon after his death and has been embraced by his fans and new league of followers.
Alexander “Lee” McQueen was not a provocateur of the “Now see THIS!” variety as witnessed with Jeremy Scott, bare-breasted models, safety pin dresses and rats on the runway. Rather, his clothes, his catwalks and his editorials were works of art. Referencing history – and imagined worlds and characters – he ruffled the feathers of editors and feminists especially with his Highland Rape (2004) and pants cut so deep in the hip they made “bumsters” a phenomenon.
A patron and great lover of the music, culture and arts world, McQueen designed David Bowie’s 1996 and 1997 tours, also dressing him for the album cover of 97s Earthling. His highly tailored and chic designs spoke of fierce strength and attitude – exemplified in wearers Bjork, Cate Blanchett, Penelope Kidman, Nicole Kidman, Lady Gaga and Rihanna.
Amongst his most memorable catwalk events was the holographic Kate Moss – McQueen a great fan of technology and science; the glass box of moths that for an hour behaved as a mirror, reflecting the fashion crowd back to themselves (VOSS, 2001); the Spring 1999 Collection where robots sprayed the pure white dress of Shalom Harlow live on stage as she spun like a doll in a box; the gothic geishas with painted black mouths in 2009.
“There’s something . . . kind of Edgar Allan Poe, kind of deep and kind of melancholic about my collections,” McQueen once mused.
Indeed, from inscribing filthy words into the Savile Row coat of Prince Charles to the finest feathered details on his dresses, McQueen was a poet with a pen, fabric and a vast fashion house to create savage beauty.
Without a first class ticket to the Victoria & Albert Museum in Britain, I have settled in with the impeccably presented tome Alexander McQueen, edited by V&A Museum Senior Curator Claire Wilcox. The accompaniment to Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A, it includes over 400 images of both photographs and sketches previously unseen, along with 28 essays from expert fashion commentators, scholars and McQueen collaborators.
More about the Exhibition at V&A in London
Alexander McQueen is available at Allen & Unwin
I have a fabulous fashion giveaway for you. The legacy of Alexander McQueen is deftly being carried on by Sarah Burton. At Dior, John Galliano's embarrassing exit meant the swift installation of Raf Simons as designer - and certainly, his assignment to prepare a womenswear show in a few weeks was a trial by fire. Would you want a roasting from Anna Wintour?
Thanks to Madman Entertainment I have four passes to giveaway to Melbourne readers of my blog. If you can pick up the tickets from me, please visit the Core Integrity With Cat Facebook site to enter.