February 11 was a day for mourning in the fashion industry; it seemed that the fashion world stopped when notable, eccentric fashion designer Alexander McQueen hung himself in the closet of his London apartment. He committed suicide a week after discovering that his mother, whom he was very close to, passed away. Celebrities, designers and everyday fashionistas were shocked that McQueen’s life ended so tragically and horribly. But questions remain unanswered: Why did he end his life so soon? Why could he not cope? What was going through his mind?
Despite his death, McQueen lived and breathed fashion. He made his mark in the fashion industry as one of the most unconventional and influential fashion designers in the world.
Yet, you may ask, who is McQueen?
His life started with humble beginnings. He was born in March 16, 1969 in Lewisham, London, United Kingdom to his parents Ronald and Joyce. At a young age, McQueen dreamed about becoming a fashion designer after designing dresses for his sisters. Through his childhood and adolescence, McQueen still held on to his dream while cultivating his great talent for art and design.
When McQueen was 16 years old, he earned an apprenticeship with tailors Anderson & Shepherd in Savile Row, a shopping street in the Mayfair neighborhood in London well-known for men’s tailoring. Under his apprenticeship,, McQueen developed the tailoring skills that he would soon be famous for in the fashion industry. In addition to working at Anderson & Shepherd, he worked for tailors Gieves & Hawkes and the theatrical costume company, Angels and Bermans.
McQueen was admitted to the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London’s most prestigious fashion school. He earned his master’s degree in fashion design and attracted the attention of Isabella Blow, an influential fashion stylist. Blow was so impressed by McQueen’s talent that she helped him launched his fashion career and blossom into one of the greatest modern fashion designers.
Once his fashion career was established, McQueen’s great talent did not leave him go unrecognized. McQueen was one of the youngest designers to earn the title “British Designer of the Year,” and won the title numerous times between 1996 and 2003. He also worked with the couture houses of Givenchy and Gucci while establishing his own fashion lines “Alexander McQueen” and “McQ.” According to some fashionistas, McQueen was responsible for the trend of low-rise jeans, also known as ‘bumsters.” McQueen was also known to design skulls on various pieces of clothing, which soon became his trademark.
Aside from his spectacular fashion career, McQueen knew how to entertain his audience with his dramatic and innovative fashion shows. Many of his spring runway collections and fashion shows used new technology and innovation in order to shock and surprise his audiences. One example was his spring 2003 runway show, which recreated a shipwreck. His spring 2006 show displayed a life-sized hologram of Kate Moss draped in yards of fabric.
McQueen’s designs also attracted some celebrities. Famous starlets such as Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Penelope Cruz were avid fans of McQueen’s designs.. Also, McQueen designed costumes for music videos for singers Bjork and Lady Gaga.
Although his death was tragic and untimely, McQueen will be immortalized in the world of fashion. McQueen was a revolutionary fashion designer with a fertile imagination, eye for tailoring and great eccentricity that made him a fashion innovator. Along with Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, McQueen will be legendary in the world of haute-couture. He is an immortal fashion king.