“He’s dead.” I almost dropped my phone when my long time friend, Aarron, told me the horrible news. Alexander McQueen had passed away. It seemed like a bad dream but I had to look up all the popular newspapers to see if it was true. My soul was slammed with a concrete wall of hurt and shock. With tears running down my face, his whole career flashed before my eyes. Alexander McQueen changed the world of fashion with his work ethic, his penchant for over the top presentation and his unique concept of what was possible in making a garment. The fashion industry has suffered a huge loss with his death.
His influence has shaped me as a fashion designer and as an artist. I, among others, could only hope to match him in concept and in practice. He refused to settle for anything less than spectacular. Often never thinking much about his own appearance he would walk out bashfully at the end of his shows in nothing but an under shirt and sewing oil stained jeans. And yet he looked nothing but glorious in everyone’s eyes including mine. The sacrifice he put into his work is the stuff of legend. His work will forever be documented and used, as an example of what fashion should be.
Never to leave anyone in disappointment, McQueen always put on a show no one would ever forget. Filled with anarchy, dark humor and larger than life stage props, his slot in London Fashion Week always pushed the meaning of what a fashion show should be. He shocked the fashion industry when he used robotic arms to spray-paint dresses on pure improvisation. And yet, the eye burning camera flashes and celebrity spectacle never outshined the exquisite quality and the world class tailoring that was always present in his work.
Despite the fame, fortune and glamour of the fashion industry, he remained a delicate and sensitive man. Always discreet by nature, he avoided the public eye whenever he could. He was a family man and had very few close friends, one of them being Isabella Blow; who bought his entire graduate collection and supported him faithfully until her suicide in 2007. He was also very close to his mother who had inspired him when he was under the strict expectations of his father when he was a child. Ms Blow’s suicide two years ago coupled with the very recent death of his mother compelled him to take his own life. He hung himself in his London flat on the 11th of February, the night before his mother’s funeral. Philip Treacy, a close friend and regular “It’s not easy being Mr. McQueen,” he continued “We’re all human. His mum had just died. And his mum was a great supporter of his talent.”
The death of Lee Alexander McQueen has broken my heart, personally and professionally. His unconventional tactics pushed my consciousness to new levels. I hope to emulate his work through mine with his work ethic and his anything is possible attitude.