Born on 17 March 1969 in Lewisham, London, to Scottish taxi driver Ronald and social science teacher Joyce, McQueen was the youngest of six children. He grew up in a council flat in a tower block in Stratford. He attended Carpenters Road Primary School, started making dresses for his three sisters at a young age, and announced his intention to become a fashion designer.
McQueen later attended Rokeby School and left aged 16 in 1984 with one O-level in art, going on to serve an apprenticeship with Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard, before joining Gieves & Hawkes and, later, the theatrical costumiers Angels and Bermans. The skills he learned as an apprentice on Savile Row helped earn him a reputation in the fashion world as an expert in creating an impeccably tailored look.
Some of McQueen's accomplishments included being one of the youngest designers to achieve the title "British Designer of the Year", which he won four times between 1996 and 2003; he was also awarded the CBE and named International Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers in 2003.
Alexander McQueen and George Forsyth
Alexander McQueen was a British fashion designer and couturier best known for his in-depth knowledge of bespoke British tailoring, his tendency to juxtapose strength with fragility in his collections, as well as the emotional power and raw energy of his provocative fashion shows. He is also known for founding his own Alexander McQueen label. His achievements in fashion earned him four British Designer of the Year awards, as well as the CFDA's International Designer of the Year award in 2003.
December 2000 saw a new partnership for McQueen, with the Gucci Group's acquiring 51% of his company and McQueen's serving as Creative Director. Plans for expansion included the opening of stores in London, Milan and New York, and the launch of his perfumes Kingdom and, most recently, My Queen. In 2005, McQueen collaborated with Puma to create a special line of trainers for the shoe brand. In 2006 he launched McQ, a younger, more renegade lower priced line for men and women.
McQueen became the first designer to participate in MAC's promotion of cosmetic releases created by fashion designers. The collection, McQueen, was released on 11 October 2007 and reflected the looks used on the Autumn/Winter McQueen catwalk. The inspiration for the collection was the 1963 Elizabeth Taylor movie Cleopatra, and thus the models sported intense blue, green, and teal eyes with strong black liner extended Egyptian-style. McQueen handpicked the makeup.
By the end of 2007, Alexander McQueen had boutiques in London, New York, Los Angeles, Milan and Las Vegas. Celebrity patrons, including Nicole Kidman, Penélope Cruz, Sarah Jessica Parker and Rihanna, J-pop queens such as Ayumi Hamasaki, Namie Amuro, and Koda Kumi have frequently been spotted wearing Alexander McQueen clothing to events. Björk, Ayumi Hamasaki and Lady Gaga have often incorporated Alexander McQueen pieces in their music videos.
McQueen was openly gay and said he realised his sexual orientation when he was six years old. He told his family when he was 18 and, after a rocky period, they accepted his sexuality. He described coming out at a young age by saying, "I was sure of myself and my sexuality and I've got nothing to hide. I went straight from my mother's womb onto the gay parade".
In the summer of 2000, McQueen had a marriage ceremony with his partner George Forsyth, a documentary filmmaker, on a yacht in Ibiza. The marriage was not official, as same-sex marriage in Spain was not legal then. The relationship ended a year later and McQueen and Forsyth maintained a close friendship.
McQueen received press attention after the May 2007 suicide of international style icon Isabella Blow. Rumours were published that there was a rift between McQueen and Blow at the time of her death, focusing on McQueen's under-appreciation of Blow. In response to these rumours, McQueen told an interviewer:
It's so much bollocks. These people just don't know what they're talking about. They don't know me. They don't know my relationship with Isabella. It's complete bullshit. People can talk; you can ask her sisters ... That part of the industry, they should stay away from my life, or mine and Isabella's life. What I had with Isabella was completely dissociated from fashion, beyond fashion.McQueen was an accomplished scuba diver and used his passion as a source of inspiration in his designs, including spring 2010's "Plato's Atlantis". Much of his diving was done around the Maldives.
Alexander McQueen: The Life and the Legacy by Judith Watt
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Harper Design; First Edition edition (October 30, 2012)
Amazon: Alexander McQueen: The Life and the Legacy
An intimate and revealing look at the personal and professional life of the fashion world's most visionary designer.
This incredible volume strips away the layers of legend surrounding Alexander McQueen, revealing the sartorial genius and the true history of the man who reinvented modern fashion. Uncovering new details about Lee Alexander McQueen's humble childhood in East London, author Judith Watt traces the young designer's ascent—from his graduate collection at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design to his over-the-top runway shows to the designs he created just days before his death at age forty. Providing new insights into the dark passion and inspiration that guided each fever-pitched runway show, this fully illustrated portrait delivers a truly comprehensive, in-depth look at the most provocative designer of a generation. Illustrated throughout with McQueen's personal drawings and ephemera as well as a mixture of exquisite catwalk and editorial fashion images, Alexander McQueen: The Life and the Legacy is every bit as stunning as the designer himself.
More Fashion Designers at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Art
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