Alexander McQueen

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Biography

Born in the East End of London, the son of a taxi driver, McQueen started making dresses for his three sisters at a young age and announced his intention of becoming a fashion designer. He has said that one of his earliest memories was from around the age of 3 when he drew a picture of a dress on a piece of bare wall which had been exposed by peeling wallpaper in the council house where his family lived. McQueen has jokingly called it his first design sketch.

Alexander mcqueen.jpg


Collections

Alexander McQueen/Fall Winter 2011

Alexander McQueen/Pre-Fall 2011

Alexander McQueen/Spring Summer 2011

Alexander McQueen Resort 2011


Career

McQueen left Rokeby School at 16, landing himself an apprenticeship with Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard, then working for Gieves & Hawkes and the famous theatrical costumiers Angels and Bermans. Whilst on Savile Row, McQueen's clients included Mikhail Gorbachev and Charles, Prince of Wales. At the age of 20, he spent a period of time working for Koji Tatsuno before traveling to Milan, Italy and working for Romeo Gigli.

McQueen returned to London in 1994 and applied to London's most prestigious fashion school, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design to work as a pattern cutter tutor. Due to the strength of his portfolio he was persuaded by the Head of the Masters course to enroll on the course as a student. He received his Masters degree in Fashion design and famously, his graduation collection was bought in its entirety by influential fashion stylist Isabella Blow, who was said to have persuaded McQueen to change his name from Lee to Alexander (his middle name) when he subsequently launched his fashion career.

Icelandic singer Björk sought McQueen's work for the cover of her album Homogenic in 1997.

Design history

Alexander McQueen's early runway collections developed his reputation for controversy and shock tactics (earning the title "l'enfant terrible" and "the hooligan of English fashion"), with trousers aptly named "bumsters", and a collection entitled "Highland Rape". McQueen is known for his lavish, unconventional runway shows, such as a recreation of a shipwreck for his spring 2003 collection, spring 2005’s human chess game and his fall 2006 show, Widows of Culloden, which featured a life-sized hologram of supermodel Kate Moss, dressed in yards of rippling fabric.[1]

Givenchy appointment

The president of LVMH, Bernard Arnault caused a stir when he instated McQueen as head designer at Givenchy in 1996, succeeding John Galliano. Upon arrival at Givenchy, McQueen insulted the founder by calling him ‘irrelevant’. Thus, his first couture collection with Givenchy was unsuccessful, with even McQueen telling Vogue in October 1997 that the collection was “crap”. 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. McQueen stayed with Givenchy until March 2001, when the contract he said was "constraining his creativity" was ended.

Accomplishments

Some of Alexander McQueen's accomplishments include being one of the youngest designers to achieve the title "British Designer of the Year", which he won four times between 1996 and 2003. He has also been awarded the CBE, as well as being named International Designer of the Year at the Council of Fashion Designer Awards. December 2000 saw a new partnership for McQueen with Gucci Group acquiring 51% of the company, and McQueen serving as Creative Director. Plans for expansion have included the opening of stores in London, Milan, and New York, and the launch of his perfumes Kingdom, and more recently My Queen. In 2005, McQueen collaborated with Puma to create a special line of trainers for the shoe brand.

McQueen became the first designer to participate in MAC's newest promotion: cosmetic releases created by fashion designers. The collection, McQueen, was released on 11 October 2007 and reflects the looks used on the Fall/Winter McQueen runway. The inspiration for the collection was the Elizabeth Taylor movie Cleopatra, and thus the models sported intense blue, green, and teal eyes with strong black liner extended Egyptian-style. McQueen handpicked the 3 cream shadows, coordinating eye shadows, two lip sticks, two lipglasses, three eyeliners, false lashes and Mineralized Skin Finish powder used in the collection.

Company

Alexander McQueen by the end of 2007 had boutiques in New York, London, Los Angeles, Milan, and Las Vegas. Japanese pop superstar Ayumi Hamasaki is one of the many celebrities like Naoumi Tripaati that often wears Alexander McQueen, often seen in her "making of" videos and back-stage clips. As of 14 July 2008, the Alexander McQueen internet store has launched on the company website, allowing shoppers to purchase ready-to-wear and accessories online.

Personal life

McQueen received press attention after the May 2007 suicide of his close friend, Isabella Blow. The two met early in McQueen's career, when Blow desperately wanted to meet the young designer, even resorting to calling his mother in order to arrange a meeting.[1] Rumors were published that there was a rift between McQueen and Blow at the time of her death, rumors that focused on McQueen's underappreciation of Blow.[2] In response to these rumors, McQueen told an interviewer:[3] "It’s so much bollocks. These people just don’t know what they’re talking about. They don’t know me. They don’t know my relationship with Isabella. It’s complete bull. People can talk; you can ask her sisters.… That part of the industry, they should stay away from my life, or mine and Isabella’s life. What I had with Isabella was completely disassociated from fashion, beyond fashion".

Alexander McQueen passed away at the age of forty, on 11th February 2010. He was found in his London apartment. His mother had passed away on the 2nd of February 2010. Lee Alexander was due to show his Fall 2010/11 collections in the following weeks. [4]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Bridget Foley (June 2008). "Hail McQueen url=http://www.wmagazine.com/fashion/2008/06/alexander_mcqueen". W magazine. 
  2. Horyn, Cathy (2007-05-10). "The Woman No Hat Could Tame". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/10/fashion/10BLOW.html?ref=fashion. 
  3. Bridget Foley (June 2008). "Hail McQueen url= http://www.wmagazine.com/fashion/2008/06/alexander_mcqueen". W magazine. 
  4. [1]
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