Lee Alexander McQueen (March 16, 1969-February 11, 2010)

Lee Alexander McQueen was an English fashion designer well known for his theatrical designs and has become an innovative part of fashion since 2007. McQueen was born on March 16, 1969 in Lewisham, London to parents Ronald and Joyce, and the was youngest of six. He started to take an interest in fashion at an early age, when he designed and made dresses for his three older sisters. McQueen knew at a young age that he was destined to become a fashion designer.

McQueen’s education started when he attended Rokeby School at age 16, then he left with one O-level in art. From there McQueen went on to be an apprentice for Saville Row’s tailors Anderson & Sheppard, then he joined Gieves & Hawkes. McQueen is known for dramatic designs, which derived from his experience with theatrical costumiers Angels & Bermans.  The skills he picked up while being an apprentice for Saville Row molded his reputation for his immaculate tailored looks that he incorporated into his designs. McQueen had high clientele while being an apprentice for Savile Row, which included Prince Charles himself.  At age 20, he worked for Koji Tatsuno then moved to Milan, Italy to work for Romeo Gigli. In 1994, McQueen returned to London where he was pursued by the Head of Masters to enroll into Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, where he went on to receive his master’s degree in fashion design. When McQueen presented his graduation collection, he had a deep influence from fashion stylist Isabelle Blow, who is also responsible for persuading McQueen to become known as Alexander McQueen, which would then give birth to the Alexander McQueen Empire.

The early runway collections of Alexander McQueen earned him the reputation for being controversial, earning him titles such as “l’enfant terrible” and “the hooligan of English fashion”. Examples include naming trousers “bumsters” and a collection he entitled “Highland Rape”. McQueen’s runway shows were very extravagant, for example when he recreated a shipwreck for his spring 2003 collection, and his spring 2005 collection when the theme was a human chess game. In his fall 2006 show called “Widows of Culloden,” he featured a life-sized hologram of supermodel Kate Moss who was dressed in yards of rippling fabric.

McQueen has been credited on numerous occasions for innovative technology that would bring new life to his shows, always leaving his audience on the edge of their seats. Alexander McQueen was named British Designer of the Year four times in his career, and other awards include the CBE and International Designer of the Year at the Council of Fashion Designers Awards. He was also became the first designer to be a part of MAC’s promotion of cosmetics.

By the end of 2007 the Alexander McQueen Company had launched boutiques all over the world, including his home store in London, Milan, New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. Celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Usher have been spotted wearing designs from McQueen’s collections. Lady Gaga, a Grammy award-winning artist, even incorporated Alexander McQueen’s designs in one of her music videos; the most recent music video would be her hit Bad Romance.  Alexander has left an amazing impact in the world of fashion, through his beauty of looking outside of the box and not being afraid to rebel. The designs of McQueen will continue to live on forever, and Alexander McQueen will be greatly missed.

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By Jamonique Fletcher