Photographed by Steven Meisel
I wrote a piece on McQueen himself back in 2009 for an online publication and what better way to pay tribute to the man, the name, the pure raw beauty of the legacy that is destined to live on, than to share my own musings on his mastery, even if dated. As they say, long live McQueen.
The Royal Reign of Alexander McQueen
By Tara Edie
Published 2009, Runway Magazine
To be successful in high fashion, one must be willing to take a step outside of the box. To completely revolutionize the world of high fashion, one must shatter the box in its entirety. Those who create today’s unforgettable contemporary couture are bound by no rules and craft pure art around the human form as the canvas. And Alexander McQueen has proven himself a legend in fusing art with attire, bringing to the runways a sense of imagination unlike anything the spheres of style have seen before.
A relatively younger designer in today’s world of fashion, McQueen began his chosen path at age 16 under the tailored direction of costumiers Angels and Bermans. His first collection, an accumulation of his time spent at Central Saint Martins Masters program, debuted in 1994 and consisted of a French-British fusion of styles with a unified focus on tailored detail, eventually leading to his mentorship with legendary stylist Isabella Blow. It was from this collection that McQueen got his first dose of fame, and six short years later Gucci Group was knocking down his door for acquiring ownership in his label. He now designs menswear, fragrances, and a few years ago launched a more affordable line called McQ. McQueen has won the titled “British designer of the Year” four separate times. He also worked in collaboration with Target for their GO International campaign as well as designing a special collection of sneakers for Puma and working in the realm of make-up with MAC.
McQueen’s style is unlike anything the catwalks have seen before. He is known not for pushing the envelope, but for completely redesigning it. Dubbed the titled “l-enfant terrible”, his creations are controversial and utterly shocking. He is outrageously avante-garde; at his Spring/Summer 1999 show, model Shalom Harlow danced between two spray painting robots of gold and black that triggered tears in the audience. He is also know for a collection centered on a holographic image of Kate Moss as well as the 1995 grouping that was provocatively titled “Highland Rape”. A signature of his latest Fall 2009 designs included extreme silhouettes of black, red, silver, and white whose intense shape was paralleled by the memorable structure of the models’ oversized lips.
According to his website, McQueen himself is known for “…the emotional power and raw energy of the shows as well as the romantic but determinedly contemporary nature of the collections…the juxtaposition between contrasting elements: fragility and strength, tradition and modernity and fluidity and severity. An openly emotional and even passionate viewpoint is realized with a profound respect and influence for the arts and crafts tradition”. He has mastered the art of fashion in its most bizarre form, bringing together elements of style, design, theatrics, and shock to create more than just clothing but an entire transformation of the fashion industry as we know it.