11 Feb 2010

The passing of an iconoclast: RIP Alexander McQueen

With one week until London Fashion Week and barely a month before he was due to unveil a new line at Paris Fashion Week, king ruffian of UK fashion Lee “Alexander” McQueen, has been found dead, aged 40, in his London home. While the tabloids cite suicide, we wouldn’t want to dishonour his oeuvre by speculating. We’ll leave that up to the press. We’re just going to take the opportunity of our little platform to commemorate the life of an East End son of a taxi driver who grew up to become one of the most fiercely individualist and massively influential designers in recent times.

The editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, has said of McQueen: “at one level, he was a master of the fantastic, creating astounding fashion shows that mixed design, technology and performance and on another he was a modern day genius whose gothic aesthetic was adopted by women the world over.

McQueen’s designs have long been favoured by strong women looking for a powerful and dark aesthetic. If Lady GaGa now steps out in a blazer emblazoned with “I am a cunt” (here’s hoping!), be sure to think of McQueen, who rebelliously embroidered the words into the lining of Prince Charles’ jacket when he was an apprentice for Saville Row at Gieves & Hawkes. With an air of the theatrical about him, having moved to costumiers Angels & Bermans after training, he would later entertain his past rebellious nature by sewing human hair into the lining of his jackets, paying homage to Jack the Ripper.

Plato’s Atlantic, his spring/summer 2010 ready-to-wear collection, was most likely inspired by his apparent passion for scuba diving and featured fish and reptilian-inspired prints, blending swirls of crisp white and aquamarine with panels of scaled gold. Shoulders and hips were pronounced and skirts were reams of opulently layered silk, twinning romance with the cold-blooded and creating a provocative tapestry that echoed his body of work. The models iridescent make-up and stiff, snake-like plaits evoked some kind of Ancient Greek sea witch. The collection also included a pretty insane pair of hooves/crab-claw shoes, as sported by Kanye’s beau, model Amber Rose.

McQueen imbued the 20th century fashion world with some iconic and unforgettable memories, including painting Shalom Harlow with a car-spraying robot on a runway platform, sending double amputee Aimee Mullins down the catwalk in elaborately carved wooden legs, and with a typical nod to the fantastical, creating a chess board with models for playing pieces. Taking inspiration from asylums, to Lord of the Flies, to Elizabethan courts, McQueen’s whimsical garments always wore an underskirt of menace.

McQueen’s catchphrase, so it’s said, was “I don’t give a fuck”, and he never cared much for prettiness. His shows played like a Hitchcockian nightmare and psychology played a big part in his designs. Perhaps his clothes reflect a sad and dark individual, which will no doubt come to be discussed in detail in the fashion press. Who knows. We say, gawd bless you barrow boy.


Vanity St Cyr x

Spring/Summer 1999 collection:

Look at these bad boys:
Spring/Summer 2010 collection:


  1. how do ya wear them though they look fab..
    rip, mcQ