Alexander McQueen birth anniversary: Remembering the avant-garde designer
The man behind some of the most dramatic catwalks in the fashion world, Lee Alexander McQueen was born on March 17, 1969 in London.Updated: Mar 17, 2020 11:07 IST
The man behind some of the most dramatic catwalks in the fashion world, Lee Alexander McQueen was born on March 17, 1969 in London.
The designer, who would go on to become one of the chief designers at Givenchy and found his own eponymous label in 1992, started his career by serving as an apprentice with Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard. He also worked with Gieves & Hawkes and, later, the theatrical costumiers Angels and Bermans.
It was Isabella Blow, the influential fashion stylist, who paved the way for McQueen in the world of fashion, acting as his mentor. McQueen found fame when he designed the wardrobe for David Bowie’s tours between 1996 and 1997 and created the topless dress for Icelandic singer Bjork.
One of McQueen’s earliest creations which went on to spawn a trend in low-rise jeans was the bumsters collection.
The designer’s reputation for controversy and element of drama earned him the monikers ‘l’enfant terrible’ and ‘the hooligan of English fashion’.
McQueen’s sense of drama saw double amputee Aimee Mullins walk down the runway in his collection of carved wooden prosthetic legs which had exquisite detailing on them.
Another McQueen trend that caught the fancy of the high and mighty throughout the 90s and early 2000s were skull printed scarves. These soon found their way to the fashion wardrobes of the likes of Nicole Richie and Johnny Depp.
During his time with Givenchy, the designer would complete one of his most famous runway shows with model Shalom Harlow sporting a strapless white dress, being rotated on a revolving section of the catwalk, and two robotic guns spraying the model in myriad colours.
McQueen’s 2001 show VOSS saw an enormous glass box on the catwalk that had a single naked model with her face obscured by a gas mask and innumerable moths. The installation had glass walls falling away and smashing on the ground to create one of the most memorable fashion moments.
An openly gay artiste, McQueen had revealed he had come out to his family when he was 18, but himself knew of his orientation when he was six years old. He married his partner George Forsyth in 2000 but the relationship ended in a year, though they remained lifelong friends.
McQueen died on February 11, 2010 from asphyxiation and hanging. He took an overdose prior to hanging himself.
His funeral took place on February 25, 2010 at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge and his ashes were scattered on the Isle of Skye at Kilmuir - a place he traced his ancestry to.