I knew of McQueen’s contributions to fashion before, of course, but he was recently high on my radar cuz of those “hoof shoes” famously rocked by Lady Gaga in the “Bad Romance” video and Kelis as part of a tragic Lady Liberty ensemble. He will be missed. Read on…
Alexander McQueen, the British fashion designer known for some of the most controversial collections of the last two decades, was found dead Thursday morning at his apartment in London, said Ed Filipowski, a partner in the public relations firm KCD.
The cause was apparently suicide, though Mr. Filipowski said Mr. McQueen’s family had not yet made a statement.
Though he apprenticed on Savile Row, Mr. McQueen, who was 40, thumbed his nose at the conventions of English style by staging often lavish runway productions that included clothes made with animal bones, and models made to look as if they were patients in a mental ward or participants in a life-size chess match. Yet he was a tailor of the highest order, making impeccably shaped suits that were also surprisingly commercial.
But Mr. McQueen’s troubled personal life was often the subject of concern among his colleagues and close friends. He was deeply affected when Isabella Blow, the eccentric stylist who discovered and championed the designer, committed suicide in 2007, and he was said to be devastated by the death of his mother on Feb. 2.
Mr. McQueen was the youngest of six children and the son of a London taxi driver, who survives him. He left school at 16 to apprentice at Anderson & Sheppard and then Gieves & Hawkes, two of the most revered English tailors. He worked briefly in Italy before returning to London to pursue a master’s degree from the Central St. Martins design college, where Ms. Blow discovered his work and bought his entire thesis collection. His first shows in London, in dark underground places, were received as a break from the traditional luxury collections being shown elsewhere in Europe.
For five years, until 2001, he also was the designer of the couture label Givenchy, where he turned the classic French house on its head, often drawing the ire of longtime fans of the label known for its elegant black dresses. He offended several French journalists for calling Hubert de Givenchy’s past work as “irrelevant.” That year, he sold his own label to the Gucci Group, a rival of the parent company of Givenchy, LVMH, following several conflicts with its management.
During his early days in London, Mr. McQueen’s collections often made audiences uncomfortable, as when he referenced the ravaging of Scotland by England by showing brutalized women in a collection called “Highland Rape.” But since he began showing his collections in Paris in 2001, he became more widely respected for designs that were seen as commentary on the often surreal, and self-referential, world of fashion.
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