Alexander 'Lee' McQueen was more than just the designer of the ubiquitous skull scarf & Lady Gaga's crazy outfits. He dropped out of school at 16 to accept an apprenticeship learning bespoke British tailoring on Savile Row, and also worked with costumiers Angels and Bermans, Romeo Gigli, and Koji Tatsuno before graduating from St Martin's college with a Masters in fashion design.
"Integral to the McQueen culture is the juxtaposition between contrasting elements: fragility and strength, tradition and modernity, fluidity and severity. An openly emotional and even passionate viewpoint is realised with a profound respect and influence for the arts and crafts tradition."
His impeccable tailoring and skill for pattern making shone through all of his clothes, a legacy of his start on Savile Row. Upon his graduation from St Martin's in 1992, larger than life stylist Isabella Blow purchased his entire collection, & there started his trend for pairing with dynamic fashion forward artists & designers such as Bjork, Madonna, Daphne Guinness, Lady Gaga and Philip Treacy. He and Isabella Blow became close friends, preferring dinner with McQueen and his beloved Mother (who passed away a week before McQueen took his own life), over networking at glitzy fashion parties. Isabella Blow's suicide in 2007 leaving McQueen devastated.
As well as the avant garde, he also designed for Target and Puma, his influence and aesthetic translatable across the board. McQueen's designs transcended budget, and 'social status'.
Alexander McQueen has many accomplishments in the fashion industry. In 1996 he took the mantle of Chief Designer at Givenchy Haute Couture from another 'enfant terrible', John Galliano. He was one of the youngest designers to achieve the title "British Designer of the Year", which he won four times. He was also the first designer to create a line for Mac cosmetics, with amazingly rich gold and turquoise pigments, inspired by Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra.
"“I'm interested in designing for posterity. People who buy McQueen are going to hand the clothes down to their children, and that's very rare today.”
Alexander McQueen, Harpers Bazaar
Video: Kate Moss in Alexander McQueen mille feuille 'Oyster' dress
Hologram version, live at the McQueen show