Designer Profile: Alexander McQueen

“l’enfant terrible” du Haute-couture …

Now I design what I want to wear, and it works that way.
– Alexander McQueen

 

Following In the style of one of our more recent blogs, the topic of this post is to help familiarize you, Mister or Miss Fashionista extraordinaire, with the important biographical details of another one of our favorite haute-couture designers; this time it’s none other than Alexander McQueen.

Who’s Alexander McQueen, you might ask? Well, who are you? That’s just something you might hear in response if you have the nerve to ask such a jejune question! All joking aside though, while Alexander McQueen’s name might not command the same gravitas and name-recognition as a Yves Saint-Laurent, Christian Dior or Hubert de Givenchy, if you’re super into designer labels, chances are you’ve heard or seen the name McQueen before and you that it’s in a league unto itself. 

 

But, as is true with nearly all high-end brands, the creative genius behind them comes down to one amazing person that had the passion of fashion running through their veins. And in the case of the Alexander McQueen label, it’s the aforementioned and eponymous designer. Make no mistake, Alexander McQueen himself is a big deal. Just Google his name or look him up on your favorite book retailers website. There are currently no less than 3 distinct biographies, all written and released in the past decade, all of which remain fairly popular.

Do You Love All Things British?

To start off with reasons why Alexander McQueen is such a unique designer and why you should know more about him, one would be amiss to neglect to mention the place of his birth: Britain. That’s right, Alexander McQueen, founder of a hugely stylish haute-couture brand comes from a land that’s more famous for fish and chips than it is for clothing. As most of you are aware, the majority of the best designers are from the continent, namely, France and Italy. But in case you didn’t know, you’ll soon find out that, Alexander McQueen definitely broke the mold in terms of what we’ve come to expect from Britions, in more ways than one.

Alexander McQueen and famous celebrity friend Sarah Jessica Parker in traditional Scottish garb.

Destined to Be Great

He was born Lee Alexander McQueen, in the early spring of 1969 in London, to an average family of modest means. His father was a taxi driver and his mother was a school teacher. While going to school himself, it was clear that Alexander wasn’t exactly the studious type, though, he excelled in art and was pushed towards training programs in tailoring at the tender age of 16. Soon after, he began to apprentice to some of the most famous tailors on Savile Row, a street in central London that’s world famous for high-end men’s fashion and bespoke tailors.

Lee Alexander McQueen as a young boy.

l’enfant terrible

Working his way up and adding to his experience and portfolio, he soon established his own modest brand but continued to work for such famous celebrities like David Bowie and Bjork. Working with such avante-garde artist, Alexander McQueen threw caution to the wind and designed clothes that attracted immediate attention, and not always the good kind. McQueen was famously awarded the moniker of, “l’enfant terrible ”, especially with his line of low-rise jeans, which he terms bumsters, as they were perhaps the most revealing low-rise jeans even til this day.

McQueen’s low riders became  known as “bumsters”. Not hard to figure out why…

Givenchy Appointment

Not only were his fashion creations controversial, so was his attitude. Believe it or not, after garnering the attention of none other than Givenchy to be given an appointment as a creative director within their world-renowned haute-couture firm, McQueen promptly stated that Givenchy, Hubert de Givenchy to be exact, was irrelevant. Despite that outburst, it was understood that McQueen was merely expressing his radical artistic honesty, and the world of fashion continued to stare in awe of what this British designer would come up with next.

The Famous VOSS Show

Perhaps what earned McQueen the most recognition was VOSS, a Spring/Summer collection that he debuted on the runway back in 2001. This show featured some huge models like Michelle Olley, Kate Moss, and Erin O’Connor and had some pretty elaborate stage props and effects that resulted in a lasting impact on its viewers and the fashion industry as a whole.

A shot from his famous VOSS show. Wow.

How Many Designers Have a Royal Knighthood?

Not too long after his famous VOSS show, in 2003 Alexander McQueen was awarded the CBE award from the British government. CBE stands for, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and is usually awarded to British citizens who have achieved unrivaled and singular successes in their professional career. In addition to his knighthood, Alexander McQueen won countless awards that labeled him as not only the best British designer but also the best international designer that same year.

A Candle That Burns Twice as Bright…

Despite all of his success and accomplishments, Alexander was secretly tortured with a horrible case of depression that he tried to self-medicate with countless narcotics. As is the case with many celebrities, including many fashion designers, it seems like success and acknowledgment doesn’t necessarily deliver the happiness and satisfaction that one would assume. Unfortunately, this depression led to Alexander taking his own life. On February 11, 2010, at the tender age of 40 and only one day after his mother had passed away, Alexander McQueen was found hanged in his Green Street home by his maid. 

He Loved his Dogs!

An elaborate funeral was held in his honor a week later and was attended by many huge name celebrities that Alexander McQueen had befriended over the years like Lady Gaga, Naomi Campbell, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Moss, and Bjork, just to name a few. He is also reputed to have left a huge sum of money that was intended for the well-being of his dogs and even more donations for animal charities.

McQueen bringing his dogs onto the runway. The man loved his pets!

You Should Check out the Documentary

That’s just a very brief overview of the life of arguably the most well known British designer of all time. Like mentioned previously, his life is the topic of no less than 3 biographies and even a documentary that was released this year!  But as much as we admire Alex McQueen for his creativity and style, more than that, we all want to add a few of his stylish creations to our wardrobes.

Poster for the Alexander McQueen documentary. Released June 8, 2018.

McQueen’s Boots Rule

At ShopUnder, we currently have a selection of premium Alexander McQueen products that are simply to die for. We have no less than 5 distinct styles of footwear for the ladies, all of which have the super-sexy patented Alexander McQueen braided chain style tie. Not only will these turn heads, up your image in ways you can’t even imagine, but you’re just going to fall in love with them.

Alexander McQueen Braided Chain Leather Boots

Stay tuned for another McQueen related blog, where we’ll provide a much more detailed profile on the brand itself, including in-depth descriptions of their various collections, products, fashion shows, ad campaigns, and all that good stuff. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Á bientôt.