Type: History
Pages: 8 | Words: 2219
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Lee Alexander McQueen, Commander of the most excellent award of the British Empire, (March 17th, 1969 – February 11th, 2010) was the British fashion-designer and the couturier known for his deep knowledge in the field of the British tailoring, his tendency to contrast strength and weakness in clothes collection as well as for his emotional power and inexhaustible energy of the provocative fashion shows. Besides, McQueen was known for the fact that he worked as a chief designer for the French fashion house Givenchy during the period from 1996 to 2001, and for the creation of his own brand of clothes called “Alexander McQueen”. His achievements in fashion brought him four British awards as the Designer of the Year (in 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2003), and an award as the International designer of the Year of the CFDA (the Council of Fashion Designers of America) in 2003.

Born in March 17th, 1969 in the London area Lewisham, in a family of the Scottish taxi driver Ronald and the teacher of social sciences Joyce McQueen, he was the youngest among six children in the family. McQueen studied in the primary school in Carpenters Road, and already at an early age, he started creating clothes for his three young sisters, having declared his desire to be a fashion designer. Later, Alexander McQueen went to school Rockbey and left it in 1984 at the age of 16 with only O-level (an ordinary level of knowledge) in art. Further, he continued his educating as a journeyman at the tailors “Sevile Rowe Anderson & Sheppard” until he began to work for the tailoring studio “Gieves and Hawkes”, and sometime later for theatre costumers Bermans and Angels. Those skills he gained being the journeyman in the Sevile Rowe’s workshop helped him to earn a reputation in the world of fashion as a specialist in creating of faultlessly sewed dresses.

When Alexander McQueen worked for Sevile Rowe, Mikhail Gorbachev and Prince Charles were among his clients. At the age of 20, sometime late, prior to work for Romeo Gigli and trips to Milan, he worked for Koji Tatsuno. In 1994, McQueen returned to London and submitted the application to the St Martin’s Central College of Art and Design to work there as a teacher of dressmaking. Thanks to McQueen’s perfect portfolio, he was noticed by the head of Master courses, who persuaded him to enter the magistracy. He received the degree of the master in the field of the fashion design, and his final collection was completely sold to the influential stylist of fashion Isabella Blow.  His career in the fashion world began soon after his creation of the second collection “Theater of cruelty of McQueen”, when he met Katie England who became his great helper and supporter. He asked her immediately to join him as a creative director and assisted him in creating his third collection named “Birds”, the display of which took place in Kings-Cross.

The dress from Alexander McQueen, which Camilla Böll put on in 2009, according to the version of the “Instyle” magazine, was included into a number of “hundred best dresses of the decade”.  McQueen’s early collections, developed especially for the display on the podium strengthened his reputation of discrepancy and shocking tactics, thanks to which he was awarded with a title “An awful child” and “The hooligan of the English fashion”.  The trousers, shown in this display, were neatly called “bumsters” (trousers with a very low fit), and the collection received the name “Highland Violence”.

In 2004, the journalist Carolina Evans wrote about McQueen: “The theatrical performance of cruelty” sends us to its dark and painful display of the history of Scotland”. Besides, McQueen was known by his easy and unusual fashion shows. For the display of his spring collection of 2003, a ship-wreck scene was recreated. In the spring of 2005, the show took place in the style of “the person in a chess game”, and in the fall of 2006 the holograms of the supermodel of Kate Moss, who put on some yards of iridescent fabric, were full-scale shown in the fashion show called “Culloden’s Widows”.

McQueen “bumsters” generated the fashion on jeans with a low fit – during their debut they draw a lot of attention from outside critics and caused a large number of disputes. McQueen also became known for the fact that skulls were used in his design. The scarf, bearing this motive, became a popular thing which everyone had to have in clothes; besides, his design was copied worldwide. McQueen is still attributed drama and extravagance usage on the podium. He used new technologies and innovations to diversify the show by new turns and, thus, often astonished and shocked the public. The silhouettes he created were attributed the involvement of feelings and imagination and revolt into fashion. Alexander McQueen was among the first designers who began to use the Indian models on displays in London. The British fashion designer also developed a collection of dresses under the name “Manta”, each of which cost about 2800 pounds sterling. An idea of the line, called in honor of the manta ray (a huge sea devil), came to McQueen during his holidays which he spent on the Maldives in 2009. These design dresses were worn by various models and celebrities among whom there was a model Lily Cole.

McQueen’s best-known and the most dramatic show is considered the fashion show spring-summer of 2001, called VOSS.  The huge windowpane was the central subject of the stage which attracted the audience’s attention.  As the whole room was shined, and the internal part of the window frame was not illuminated, glass walls looked as big mirrors, therefore the sitting spectators saw only their reflection in mirrors.  At last, an hour later, when the show began, the light was switched on in a big frame that made visible the internal part of the huge show-window, filled with night butterflies. The naked model, settled down in the center of the couch, whose face was hidden from the audience by a gas mask, was shined with a light. Then glass walls fell and broke about the floor.  The British writer Michel Ollie became the model whom McQueen especially chose as the central figure of the show.

Working in Givenchy, he softened the design of the collections a little; however, he continued indulging his rebellious vein. The show of 1998, which generated a set of disputes, became a result of that. He comprised the display of white cotton dresses against which paints from barrels were sprayed. Moreover, the model Aimee Mallins participated in this display, whose both feet were amputated. She paced on the podium on wooden legs with very unusual carving. Givenchy clothes, the patterns of which were placed in the Vogue Magazine, are possible to relate to a late stage of McQueen’s clothes creation. He worked in Givenchy fashion house till March, 2001 when the contract, which, in his opinion, “constrained his creativity”, ended.

The number of McQueen’s numerous achievements also included the fact that he was one of the youngest designers entitled “the British Designer of the Year”. He received this award four times from1996 to 2003; he also was awarded by the CBE award – the Commander of the most excellent award of the British Empire. Moreover, in 2003, Alexander McQueen was called as the International Designer of the Year by the Union of Fashion Designers. In December, 2000 he adjusted a new partnership with the Gucci Group Company which got 51% of shares of McQueen’s company; according to his shares in the company, he acted as the creative director of this fashion house.

In 2006, the successful designer started a new fashion line for men and women – McQ – younger and rebellious clothes series at lower prices. Alexander McQueen also became the first designer participating in advance of the cosmetic brand MAC which was developed by designers of fashion. His collection was let out in October, 2007 and displayed the images used in McQueen’s display Fall-Winter. The movie “Cleopatra”, in which Elizabeth Taylor acted in 1963, was a source of inspiration of the collection. Due to the movie subject, the make-up with intensively green, blue and turquoise flowers as well as the black eyeliner was put with a thick line in the Egyptian style. McQueen himself selected the make-up for the actors.

By the end of 2007, McQueen had become the owner of boutiques in London, Las Vegas, New York, Milan and Los Angeles. The well-known clients of this brand, among whom Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman, Rihanna, Penelope Cruz, J-pop queens Koda Kumi, Namie Amuro and Ayumi Hamasaki were quite often seen wearing the dresses from Alexander McQueen on various occasions. Lady Gaga, Bjork and Ayumi Hamasaki often showed dresses from McQueen in their musical clips. Wearing his clothes, the listed celebrities even more increased the popularity of the designer brand.

McQueen’s models like mutants with a demonic make-up and highly raised hair from two sides on type of horns or locators of the aliens hardly moved on the podium in improbably high closed boots on spike heels. Dragons and reptiles inspired the designer on this collection.

Silhouettes in the shape of  “hourglasses”, emphasizing the waist, the shortest magnificent skirts which hardly cover the hips of top models, the pointed shoulders and round short sleeves, colorful scaly colors – all these gave McQueen’s collections a type of a mad mix of the futuristic and dinosaur periods. McQueen used in his collection brilliant fabrics of improbable color scale of lime, green, blue, yellow, gold, orange, turquoise colors with the elements of snake scales, exciting imagination and outlines of dragon muzzles in the eastern style.

All McQueen’s collections were noticed and appreciated. In many respects, Alexander remained as a child — he played with styles, haircuts and fabrics, his displays were often too close to the fall. His collections were considered as too theatrical. With the same inspiration with which he spotted the models with blood, in 2007 he created a dress from fresh flowers. A transparent dress of the model was decorated with live roses, violets and hydrangeas just before the display. He devoted this dress to Isabelle Blow, his muse.

McQueen did not hide the fact that he was the gay.  Besides, he said that he realized the sexual orientation when he was six years old.  Lee Alexander told his family about it at the age of 18. After a difficult period of the relations between relatives, finally, they reconciled to his orientation. The designer described the feelings which he had being young:  “I was self-assured in my sexual orientation, and I had nothing to hide.  I passed through a belly of my mother directly on the gay parade”.  In the summer of 2000, McQueen was connected by a civil marriage with the partner, the documentary film maker, George Forsyte.  The wedding ceremony took place on the yacht on the island of Ibiza.  This marriage was informal as same-sex marriages in Spain were illegal at that time.

McQueen’s death was declared in the second half of the day on February 11th, 2010. In the morning, his housemaid found his body hung up in the own house of the fashion designer in Green Street, in the center of London. McQueen died nine days after the death of his mother, Joyce, who died of cancer. It happened a few days prior to the beginning of the Week of Fashion in London though the fashion designer was not declared in the show program. David La Chepelle, the designer’s friend, said that McQueen had accepted many medical preparations and was very unhappy by the time of the death. McQueen left the suicide note: “Look after my dogs, excuse me, I love you, Lee”.

Before Alexander McQueen’s death, his “Fall-Winter” collection was incomplete for eighty percent. 16 dresses from its number were chosen under the leadership of several fashionable editors and presented on March 8th, 2010 on the Parisian Week of Fashion in the mirror, gilded salon, located in the building of the XVIII century Hotel de Clermont-Tonner. Fashionable editors chose his dresses for the final show. They said that it was difficult to watch the show because it demonstrated how much McQueen was followed the idea of the afterlife.

The clothes were executed in religious and medieval styles. Primary colors, which were used in this collection many times, were red, gold and silver. Besides, the detailed embroidery was applied in finishing the dresses. Many accessories with the purpose to show love of the fashion designer to theatrical figurativeness were put on the models. “Each product of the collection is unique as well as the designer himself” – was spoken in the statement of the McQueen’s fashion house, which was declared together with the display of this collection. After the owner of the Gucci Company had announced that the brand would exist, Sara Burton, McQueen’s long-term assistant, was appointed as a new creative director of the fashion house of Alexander McQueen in May, 2010. In September 2010, the first collection of women’s clothes was showed by Burton in Paris.

Alexander McQueen was Leonardo da Vinci of the world of fashion and saw the fashion world some ten years in advance. Unfortunately, the talented fashion designer will not see any more what clothes are fashionable in half a century. The end of one of the fashion eras came with his death.

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