Sunday, February 14, 2010

Designer of the week - week four Alexander McQueen

This week's designer of the week was on my list of designers to introduce in this blog only later on but since sadly he made the news this week not for his designs but for his tragic death I thought it will be appropriate to honor his work now.....So, this as my little tribute to a Alexander McQueen. A designer that in a relatively short career was still able to establish himself as one of the most influential designers in his generation....I think that says it all!
As I'm writing this i still can not believe that this post will refer to the 40 years old British designer in the past. It is so sad to think that someone so young who's talent provided many joyful moments to so many people around the world is no longer with us.... he was too young and his death was too soon!
Alexander McQueen was born in 1969 in London to a Scottish cab driver and a social science teacher and was the youngest of six children. Although known mostly for his women's collections, Lee's (his real name) first steps in fashion were actually on Sevile Row (the center for London's men's tailoring companies), where he trained at the age of 16 with Anderson & Sheppard and Gieves & Hawkes (the two are considered to be among the founders of the row). This is where he got his construction and tailoring expertize that eventually became a key element in his designs. After working in Milan for Romeo Gigli he returned to London and in 1994 got his masters degree in fashion design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. He was than discovered by the influential fashion stylist Isabella Blow who ended up buying his entire graduation collection, and was the one who persuaded him to change his name to Alexander and helped him launch his career. His first big brake was in 1996 when he was appointed head designer of Givenchy, succeeding John Galliano. After five rocky years at the french fashion house he had a fall out with Bernard Arnault (the chairman on LVMH who owns Givenchy). And in 2000 the Gucci Group took his namesake line under their wings and started an expansion via signature boutiques, a secondary line called McQ and collaborations with brands like Puma and Samsonite. Over the years Alexander won a number of awards including 4 times British designer of the year and an a CBE from Queen Elizabeth II (for his services to the fashion industry) among others.
From my personal designer prospective McQueen will be remembered as one to always push the boundaries of traditional tailoring, creating razor-sharp silhouettes that distorted the human body in a perfect way. Inspire to be fearless and innovative with his engineered graphic prints....and most of all for staying true to his voice and create from his heart. Looking back at his work he was never shy to share his inner thoughts and battles with us all along. And if indeed he took his own life as unconfirmed news suggested maybe he was telling us that all along...... i guess that is a price a genius mind sometimes pay....
McQueen's design were a perfect middle ground of two extremes come together into a glorious fantasy.... an aggressive streak with military and morbidity influences, balanced with a magical romantic chic. As perfectly described by him in an interview: "People find my things sometimes aggressive, but i don't see it as aggressive. I see it as romantic, with a dark side of personality, you know? and maybe sometimes i go too far. But that's just me!"
This unique vision was translated beautifully in his extravagant and unconventional runway shows. Where the use of new technology and innovation added a different twist to his shows and often shocked and surprised the audience. Not for nothing he earned the reputation of "the hooligan of English fashion". McQueen long maintained that his shows were highly autobiographical. His last men's show in Milan last month was titled "The bone collector" (was he again trying to tell us something????) and featured engineered prints of skulls on an impeccably tailored clothing.
The Future of the Alexander McQueen label is yet to be determined....the brand was straggling financially and it's only commercial value was the late designer and his unique vision. The question is will it have the artistic and financial right to survive? Will it be right to keep it even if just for the reason of engraving the McQueen legacy in our future???? will it than do justice or disgrace to his name??? I guess we will wait and see what the future unfolds......




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