LifestyleRemembering Alexander McQueen: A fashion visionary who redefined beauty and inspired women

Remembering Alexander McQueen: A fashion visionary who redefined beauty and inspired women

Alexander McQueen at the side of a top model and female friends
Alexander McQueen at the side of a top model and female friends
Images source: © Getty Images | 2004 Dave M. Benett
3:15 PM EST, February 7, 2024

Alexander McQueen clearly left his mark on fashion history. The designer upended traditional fashion norms. He saw beauty in places others didn't recognize. He meticulously fine-tuned his collections, even going as far as to make changes with scissors moments before the runway show. He was a true visionary, attracting the admiration of celebrities and fashion connoisseurs.

The early career of Alexander McQueen

As a boy, McQueen designed dresses for his three sisters and dreamt of becoming a renowned designer one day. He was the son of a taxi driver and a social science teacher, and the youngest of their six children.

He initially sewed theatrical costumes at Angels and Bermans. Despite lacking formal training, he completed a master's course at Central St. Martins College of Art. For five years, he served as the chief designer of the Givenchy fashion house, thereafter associating with the Gucci brand. After years of hard work, gaining experience, and building his reputation, he opened his own studio under the name Alexander McQueen.

Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen© Getty Images | Nick Harvey

The death of Alexander McQueen

In 2010, Alexander McQueen was found dead in his London apartment. The designer had hung himself in his closet with a belt, leaving behind a brief note. "Feed my dogs. I'm sorry. I love you", he wrote, likely intending these words for his husband.

Acknowledged as gay, Alexander McQueen struggled with depression and drug addiction in the later years of his life. His wrists were marked with various signs of cutting.

Alexander McQueen's most intriguing designs

If you were to hang a few designer pieces from different brands side by side, while covering their tags, the original style of Alexander McQueen's work would easily stand out.

A favorite designer for London streets and artists who value individualism like Bjork and Lady Gaga, McQueen's work was rooted in dramatic and theatrical design.

In the early stages of his career, his designs were intended to shock. "I'm not hosting a cocktail party. I prefer people leaving my shows feeling nauseated,” he once said.

Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen© Getty Images | 2007 Chad Buchanan

A dress woven from wire mesh or a creation sprayed with black paint live during the show - these offer just a glimpse of what he could surprise with.

Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen© Getty Images | Pascal Le Segretain

During the final years of his career, he shifted his focus onto designs inspired by history and film. His works gained a dash of subtlety, yet they never ceased to astonish with their majesty and creativity.

Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen© Getty Images | Pascal Le Segretain

Inflated sleeves, avant-garde cuts, asymmetrical insets, theatrical elements, and the recurring symbols of roses and skulls characterized Alexander McQueen's style. "Fashion should be a form of escapism, not a prison", he insisted.

Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen© Getty Images | PA Images

His work was punctuated by feminist undertones. To McQueen, fashion served not just a visual purpose but also intended to convey a deeper message.

Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen© Getty Images | Larry Busacca/FFR

"I design clothes because I don't want women to appear innocent and naive. I want women to be fierce. I despise the objectification of women and hate when men whistle at them on the street. They deserve more respect. I appreciate when men step back, awestruck by the women's presence. Having witnessed a woman nearly beaten to death by her husband, I fully comprehend what misogyny is. I want people to fear the women I dress", said Alexander McQueen.

Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen© Getty Images | WireImage

He made fashion start a conversation about sociology, politics, and art with a less condescending tone.

Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen© Getty Images | 2002 Catwalking

"I aim to be recognized for a unique silhouette or a distinctive style of cutting. I want people to know that when I'm gone, the 21st century was launched by Alexander McQueen", he declared.

Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen© Getty Images | Eric Ryan
Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen© Getty Images | 2007 Lorenzo Santini
Paris Fashion Week 2007 - Alexander McQueen
Paris Fashion Week 2007 - Alexander McQueen© Getty Images | Chris Moore/Catwalking
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