Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Farewell, Mr. McQueen, We Miss You Already

I feel that I should dedicate at least one post to the amazing and irreplaceable Alexander McQueen. As I am sure most of you know, the King of Avant Garde took his own life in February in the wake of his mother's death. Although he was wildly successful, both commercially and critically, he struggled in his personal life. I do not want to focus on that for this post, though. I would rather celebrate his substantial achievements. The most amazing thing about McQueen in my opinion was his ability to create amazing avante garde pieces that manage to look equally stunning on and off the runway. Theatrical, couture-esque clothing are often completely unwearable, but McQueen made all his pieces accessible. His last complete collection for Spring/Summer 2010, was the widely applauded "Plato's Atlantis."
A look from "Platos Atlantis"

The models were made up to look like mythical creatures
emerging from the sea. Lady Gaga debuted her hit song Bad
Romance at his show and made his "Armadillo" shoes all the
rage. The collection was inspired by McQueen's love of scuba diving.

McQueen learned his impeccable tailoring skills working on London's Savile Row. While here it is rumoured that he was making a jacket for Prince Charles, and he scrawled "I am a c**t" in drafting chalk, on the inside of the lining. He later studied at Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design in London, and his entire graduation collection was bought by the influential sylist Isabella Blow. She soon became his muse. He went on to become the designer for Givenchy, succeeding John Galliano. He eventually left in 2001, claiming that his contract with the fashion house was "constraining his creativity."

The "Armadillo" and sea creature shoes

Where McQueen truly shone was on the runway for his own collections. Known as England's reining bad boy of fashion, McQueen has never shied away from controversy, rather he seemed to revel in it. Always presenting a spectacle of fantasy and otherworldliness, his shows have never disappointed. In 1992, he sent the models out with half their bums exposed, unleashing the low-rise pants trend. This is the one thing he brought to fashion that I do not thank him for. For Fall 1995, his "Highland Rape" collection, featuring tartan, had models in varying degrees of torn disarray, representing the havoc that was once brought upon Scotland by England. For Spring 2003 he recreated a shipwreck; for Spring 2005 it was a human chess game. Fall 2009 was houndstooth, clown lipstick and umbrella hats. He intentionally did not feature any looks that were new, rather everything was inspired by something that had come before. This was a social comment on the recession facing the world and what he saw as our inability to move forward. For his Fall 2006 show, "Widows of Culloden" he sent an eerily beautiful hologram of Kate Moss in a rippling gown down the runway.

Kate Moss as a hologram, Fall 2006

This collection hearkened back to the "Highland Rape" collection, with the models looking like Lady Macbeths plucked out of a cold castle, wearing antlers that could have been wall hangings as headdresses. McQueen's last collection for Fall 2010 was never fully finished, and sadly was not shown on the runway. The collection was called "Majestic" and it is nothing short of another dazzling array of fantasies. Inspired by monarchs, the collection featured lots of gold brocade, red velvet and black thigh-high boots. No matter what was inspiring Mr. McQueen, he never failed to inspire all of us.

Camilla Belle, showing the wearability of McQueen's clothing,
in two looks from Spring 2009.

Alexander McQueen has won the British Fashion Designer of the Year award four times. I think (and hope) that he will go down in fashion history as one of the best designers of the 21st century, for giving us what fashion should be: fantasy.

Two look from "Majestic" Fall 2010

Alexander McQueen bids the fashion world goodbye forever at his last runway show for Spring 2010.

Rest in Peace, we love you. Xoxoxo.

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