Alexander McQueen

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He answered laconically that he was a 'stitch bitch' when asked what he did for a living. But that was a gross understatement; after all, he was known for being probably the person... Read more
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He answered laconically that he was a 'stitch bitch' when asked what he did for a living. But that was a gross understatement; after all, he was known for being probably the person at the end of the 20th century who had the best and most thorough education of anyone in the fashion world.

Yet it didn't initially look like the self-titled 'pink sheep' of the family, born in London in 1970, would become a fashion designer. Since his parents came from humble backgrounds, they pushed for a solid education. That's why he first learned the trade from the men's tailors on London's Savile Row.

After his apprenticeship as a tailor, during which he made made-to-measure suits for the English royal family, among others, he continued his training with a theater costume tailor and finished it at the famous Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Lee McQueen's great talent did not remain undiscovered for long; already his fashion collection, which was the final project of the art school, was bought in its entirety by the influential fashion journalist and style icon Isabella Blow.

In the same year, 1992, he founded his brand 'Alexander McQueen' and in the next few years cemented his reputation as the British enfant terrible who knew how to combine the finest British tailoring with art and a lot of shock value. In 1996, he sent his models down the runway wearing pants he called 'Bumsters' - they were to start a worldwide trend. At the turn of the millennium, hardly any teenager wanted to do without these extremely low-fitting pants.

Also in 1996, Lee McQueen was appointed head designer of the Givenchy fashion house, which again caused a stir, but not necessarily in a positive sense. There was too much anarchic artistic talent and rebellion in the 'hooligan of the English fashion industry' to submit to the set guidelines of an established fashion house. During his time at Givenchy, he sold 51 percent of his own company to competitor Gucci Group - which finally broke the camel's back. In 2001, Lee McQueen was fired from Givenchy.

With a large corporation behind him and at the same time absolute creative control, Lee McQueen began to focus on promoting and growing his own brand. Boutiques were opened worldwide, his first perfume was released in 2003, followed by others, and there were plans for a cosmetics line as well as eyewear fashion.

Even after Lee McQueen's untimely death in 2010, the Alexander McQueen luxury brand continued to expand, henceforth under the creative leadership of Sarah Burton, who had been Lee McQueen's right-hand woman since 1996. This time with a feminine touch, the brand continues to make fashion statements right up to the present day. The best-known evidence of this to date is Catherine Middleton's wedding dress, which she wore for her wedding to England's Prince William on April 29, 2011.

The Alexander McQueen brand stands for what its founder Lee Alexander McQueen was known for: a lot of skill, an exuberant talent, a fair amount of rebellion, but also a large amount of heart and soul. Lee McQueen once said that his greatest fear would be to have to go on living without his mother. This had been his earnestness. On February 11, 2010, he killed himself at his home in Mayfair, London. It was the evening before his mother's funeral.
Research and text by BirdeeBirdee