Lee Alexander McQueen
March 17th, 1969 – February 11th, 2010
I remember when I found out that Alexander McQueen is dead. I was in my apartment, trying to multi task by getting ready for class, eating breakfast, finishing up homework from the night before and constantly glancing at my Facebook newsfeed. My jaw dropped when I saw status updates from friends all over the world wishing Lee a peaceful passing, “Long Live McQueen” attached at the end of other messages. Today, fans dedicate their Twitter updates to the memory of a man who was adored by many, but tortured by the demons that some say was brought on by his own genius. (Portrait edited by me, scan via John Santos Fashion Spot)
I don’t like to linger on the details of Lee taking his own life, but I couldn’t help but obsess over a digital copy of the book he wrote his last words on. My friend Travis emailed me a link to “The Descent of Man” by Wolfe Von Lenkiewicz, which you can view here. The book features a series of images depicting a disturbing re-imagining of man, historically. I want to understand what it was about these images of torture and obscurity that inspired Lee to choose it as one of his last presentations to the world. Page 56 features an illustrated hybrid of a delicate royal being, evolved into a bionic, seemingly indestructible freak. It is captioned – “The End Crowneth The Work.”
The final 16-piece Alexander McQueen collection, designed nearly 80% by Lee, was presented in Paris on March 9th, 2010, indeed crowning his staple hand crafted artistry and his place as a unique, romantic warrior. The spring 2010 collection continues to mesmerize old fans like myself and new ones who remain in awe at the iconic footwear Gaga flaunts in “Bad Romance“. I was reading 2BD and even stumbled across their post featuring Daphne Guinness’s video tribute to the spirit of McQueen and the magic he helped so many feel with his creations. (Image sequence via Hapsical, Art Fashion & Him, and Bella Fruitella)
In remembering Alexander McQueen, I like to look back at the musicians and women that introduced me to his work. Sometimes, without any prior knowledge, I would glance at the style credits for editorials because I’ll find myself drooling over an oversized, cashmere sweater I see Gwen Stefani wearing – low and behold, it’s a McQueen creation. One of my most cherished possessions is a torn polaroid from “Bad Romance” that a friend got for me on the set. Gaga is wearing McQueen heels from s/s 2010 and the torn piece sits in a mirrored frame on my desk. We miss you, Lee.
I photographed the window display at the Alexander McQueen collection store in New York’s Meatpacking District this past January. I came back to this store the day after I shot this, only to have a run in with Naomi Campbell. Yeah, THEE Naomi. I was shaking and wanted nothing more than to ask her for a picture, but I wasn’t about to disturb nature taking it’s course- a gorgeously scary woman, keeping to herself and shopping through the store of a friend gone too soon.
A visual stunner, a dedicated friend and a revolutionary artist gone too soon.
Check out photos of my favorite ladies in music decked out in McQueen below.
Gwen Stefani wearing a s/s 2002 McQueen dress. Image from my personal archive.
Beth Ditto wearing a multicolored, butterfly print dress from s/s 2008 – a collection in which McQueen paid tribute to the woman that discovered him, served as his muse and became his best friend, the late Isabella blow. Image via Frontier Psychiatry.
Björk wearing Alexander McQueen on the cover of her 1997 album, Homogenic.
San Francisco’s very own Juanita More paid tribute to the designer last night in the Castro at Q Bar’s weekly dance party, Booty Call Wednesdays.
Lee and Isabella photographed by David LaChapelle.