Thursday, February 11, 2010

Alexander McQueen: March 17, 1969 - February 11, 2010












"He is a uniquely British kind of phenomenon, 
a working class lad who bootstrapped it. 
He had enormous innate creative passion 
that ultimately gave him an incredibly broad frame of reference, 
from art to obscure movies to history,
 this spongelike passion and amazing imagination 
that in the end informed his design
He became within a very short period of time 
a very cultivated person that's sort of a function of the English class system, 
which makes people so tenacious and aggressively curious."
- Simon Doonan, Creative Director, Barney's New York


"He was an aristocrat in the true sense of the word. 
He had a natural grace, natural patrician instincts
And he had so much compassion and a big heart  he was such a friend. 
We would go to his studio and do simple things--  
sit and have a cup of tea  and just have fun
We'd play around like kids and imagine that we were in a world 
that wasn't so cynical and money-driven."
- Daphne Guiness



"Like all artists 
--and he really was an artist--  
he needed love,
 and I loved him deeply."
- Chantal Roos, fragrance developer, YSL Beauté





Alexander McQueen, one of fashion's consummate inconoclasts and showmen, 
has committed suicide at age 40.


Mcqueen's family issued a statement reading, "On behalf of Lee McQueen's family, Alexander McQueen today announces the tragic news that Lee McQueen, the founder and designer of the Alexander McQueen brand has been found dead at his home. At this stage it is inappropriate to comment on this tragic news beyond saying that we are devastated and are sharing a sense of shock and grief with Lee's family. Lee's family has asked for privacy in order to come to terms with this terrible news and we hope the media will respect this."

Circumstances of McQueen's death were not revealed and a spokesman declined comment.

McQueen's mother recently died and the designer was known to be extremely close to her, although it could not be learned whether this contributed to his death.

McQueen burst onto the London fashion scene with a mix of aggression, energy and creativity that reinvigorated the city's reputation and made his shows the hottest ticket in town.


The fashion industry weighs in on the loss of McQueen:

KATIE GRAND

"I remember going to Lee's first show at the Bluebird Garage; It was one of those 90s happenings where no one quite knew what we were going to see, but there was a huge amount of curiosity about it. There was no seating, and it was all incredibly cool. The girls came out covered in terracotta make up and that weird proportion with the bumster, which is now so famous. There were so many beautiful things in that show - it was just relentless.
"I met him afterwards with Issy Blow, and shot him for a very early issue of Dazed & Confused together with new, happening designers. Some of my favorite shows ever have been by Lee, and early on it was always such a bloody drama getting in - that was half of the fun. The one in the church on Shoreditch High Street which was lit by candles, the water one at the Royal Horticultural Halls, the only New York show at the end of a pier during massive floods and thunderstorms. The last time I saw him was at the end of his men's wear shows a couple of weeks ago, I ran backstage to congratulate him but he had already left the building to go skiing, what a shame I'll never see him again." 



DAPHNE GUINNESS
"He was an aristocrat in the true sense of the word. He had a natural grace, natural patrician instincts. And he had so much compassion and a big heart  he was such a friend. We would go to his studio and do simple things  sit and have a cup of tea  and just have fun. We'd play around like kids and imagine that we were in a world that wasn't so cynical and money-driven." Guinness said she first met him years ago: "He spotted me across Leicester Square. I was wearing his Givenchy kimono with the dragon on the back. We became good friends. He was the kindest, shyest, funniest person. And when the chips were down he was there. He wasn't a flake. You could count on him. I will miss him." 



DOMENICO DE SOLE
"I loved him. He used to come to the house for dinner  he knew Eleanor and my girls well. At the last McQueen show I went to, the fall 2004 collection, he came up to me and hugged me, and he was crying. He was very upset that I was leaving. He was shy, but once you got to know him he was very open and he had a great sense of humor  he used to make fun of people. He was also a very decent man: He was unbelievably nice to all of the seamstresses in the factory in Novara (Italy) who made his collection. He treated them well and they loved him. He was just a fabulous person." 



STELLA MCCARTNEY
"Lee was a fashion genius. I don't say that lightly, and it is a total shock that I am referring to him in the past tense. He was a real friend. I will miss him as a mate, a peer, and as a true British talent, full of life and energy in everything he ever did. He was one of our best designers, and this is a huge loss for the world of fashion. What a man! Such sad, sad news. The world has lost a star. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family, his many friends and all those who worked with him." 



SIMON DOONAN, BARNEYS NEW YORK 
"He is a uniquely British kind of phenomenon, a working class lad who bootstrapped it. He had enormous innate creative passion that ultimately gave him an incredibly broad frame of reference, from art to obscure movies to history, this spongelike passion and amazing imagination that in the end informed his design. He became within a very short period of time a very cultivated person that's sort of a function of the English class system, which makes people so tenacious and aggressively curious." Comparing him to John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood, Doonan characterized McQueen as "a provocateur, almost like a highwire act, an exercise in daring creativity. He raised the bar so high on what was even possible with clothing." 




CHANTAL ROOS
"Like all artists  and he really was an artist  he needed love, and I loved him deeply. He [had a very strong idea of] what he wanted and especially what he didn't like. He was always easy to work with," said Chantal Roos, who developed fragrances with McQueen when she headed YSL Beauté. 



JOAN BURSTEIN, OWNER OF BROWNS IN LONDON
"It is a great loss," said Joan Burstein, founder of London's Browns. "Having been with us from the beginning, I am extremely sad to hear this news. We will mourn the loss of him and his growing talent." 




PHILIP TREACY
"In a world where every man and his dog is a designer, Alexander McQueen was the real deal. He was the greatest and most genuinely talented designer I have ever worked with. His talent was supersonic. As with true talent, it comes from nowhere and reaches everywhere. His originality and exceptional talent always impressed me. He was a very kind and loving friend to me."




For more coverage, check back with WWD.COM throughout the day.


From Style.com:



The news that Alexander McQueen has killed himself is particularly devastating because it always felt to me like he’d be the last man standing. He was restless, but so pragmatic with it I assumed he had what it took to endure the extreme situations he placed himself in. He was also an arch romantic with a pessimistic streak. It produced some of the most beautiful, shocking images in the history of fashion, but it’s a state of mind that can lead to endless disappointments. The death of McQueen’s mother last week would have validated his pessimism. It would undoubtedly have taken away his most vital support. It’s awful to imagine him trying—and failing—to cope, and one can only hope that, if he was looking for peace, he found it. For everyone left behind, there will eventually be consolation, however scant right now, in a body of work whose power will never die.

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