A Legacy: Happy Birthday Lee Alexander McQueen
Remembering what would be the designer's 45th birthday
From the start of his career in 1992 until his untimely death in 2010, Lee Alexander McQueen both shocked and delighted audiences with raw presentations, often depicting bleak moments in history and anarchic politics. From dimly-lit warehouses away from the staid environment of the London Fashion Week tents, McQueen's flair for anti-establishment displays led him to be celebrated as much for outrageous theatrics as for the brilliant technique of his clothes, yet the 'enfant terrible' showmanship never eclipsed the quality of his design.
Alexander McQueen SS11
The designer's works were presented in a dignified showing that took place in Paris for Spring/Summer 11 – by Sarah Burton, his right hand, who now famously leads the label. "He wanted to get back to the handcraft he loved, and the things that are being lost in the making of fashion," she said at the time. "He was looking at the art of the Dark Ages, but finding light and beauty in it. He was coming in every day, draping and cutting pieces on the stand." The 16 outfits shown in the collection had been 80% finished at the time of his death, and followers of his work agree that the season acts as a fitting reference to his very many previous landmark collections.
"He was looking at the art of the Dark Ages, but finding light and beauty in it"
Later remembering McQueen in a stark ode, and also famously close to him during his industry rein, British fashion royalty Daphne Guinness always had, and still continues to, champion his work.
Guinness starred as the protagonist of a tribute to the designer, titled The Legend of Lady White Snake: A Tribute to the Spirit of Alexander McQueen, a story based on Chinese legend. film is 'a meditation on obsessive love and metamorphosis', with stylist and production designer GK Reid placing Guinness in his own creations as well as Gareth Pugh, Phillip Tracy and never-seen-before McQueen pieces made especially for the heiress.
The relationship between Daphne Guinness and Lee McQueen was also bound by their mutual respect and love for influential stylist and fashion editor Isabella Blow, who went on to become his muse, patron and unofficial public relations agent. Since Blow's own untimely passing, Guinness initiated an acclaimed exhibit of her private dress collection, ensuring that the legacy of her two iconic friends lives on.
'Burning Down the House' 1996 by David LaChapelle
Alexander McQueen with Isabella Blow in 2005
Further to his key supporters in Guinness and Blow, it would be difficult to remember the designer properly without mentioning his affiliation with Kate Moss. In 2006, the pair created what is surely one of the finest fashion moments of the past century, when she appeared via hologram on the Autumn/Winter Alexander McQueen runway in 2006.
The pair created what is surely one of the finest fashion moments of the past century
McQueen mirrored the model's validation, supporting her in his own unique way in 2005 during her well documented media downfall – before a subsequent uprising – after tabloid stories ran wild. It cemented an enduring friendship.
The designer declares his support of Moss in 2005
And so it seemed appropriate that this year – during her own birthday celebrations – that Kate Moss was announced as the face of Alexander McQueen for Spring/Summer 14. Perhaps surprisingly, it is the first time she has starred in an official campaign for the label, and was shot by Steven Klein.
The move jogged memories of the star appearing almost a decade prior in hologram form, proving that the work of maverick Lee Alexander McQueen can never really be forgotten to the world of fashion.
Lee Alexander McQueen 1969–2010