Ready to Wear: McQueen’s aim was to make clothing that was anything but throwaway

Fashion has lost its greatest showman, a man who not only art directed the most memorable fashion experiences of the past 15 years and tirelessly pushed at the boundaries of technical innovation, but who was also a couturier in the traditional sense, always demonstrating a respect for handcraftsmanship and the art of dressmaking that was unrivalled.

McQueen was fashion's last visceral talent – the raw power, the insistence that conventions are made to be learnt then overturned and the sheer courage of his oeuvre were boundless. It's small wonder that the fashion industry – as well, of course, as those who were privileged enough to know the designer personally – is struggling to come to terms with this loss.

The 16 looks finished by his team as a tribute to their mentor and shown to small groups of people in Paris last week were the most beautiful expression of love for the man who had inspired so many throughout his career.

Byzantine art and Old Master paintings were the designer's starting point for these, and the manner in which McQueen took some of the grandest works of art – by Jean Fouquet, Sandro Botticelli, Stephan Lochner, Hans Memling, Hugo van der Goes, Jean Hey and Hieronymus Bosch in particular – and wove them into precious jacquards was just as audacious as might be expected.

McQueen himself would, no doubt, have taken huge liberties with such typically ambitious subject matter. On this occasion, the designer's atelier treated his references with a tenderness that was unprecedented. Metal thread hand-embroideries, gold-tipped feathers, Tudor roses, angel wings and the Madonna, the latter in rich as well as pale, marble tones, all made their way across elaborately constructed pieces, each one entirely different to that which came before it – and each one perfect.

McQueen's aim was always to make clothing that was anything but throwaway, and in that he was at odds with his time. This final collection saw that mindset reach its most heart-rending conclusion.

"We don't all want to dress like soldiers, wearing the same uniform for the same price," Alexander McQueen once told me."There is a viewpoint that people should play safe because they can't afford to frighten their customer but, in fact, the opposite is true. You have to push forward and realise the power of fantasy and escapism. I remember when I first started out, I used to walk past what was then Valentino in Bond Street and just look in amazement at the way the clothes were finished. I was working in Savile Row then, it was about 1986, and it was miraculous, so inspiring. I have always wanted to create pieces that are unique and that have emotional content, pieces that can be handed down, like an heirloom. I want people to get joy out of my clothes."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager - OTE £60,000

    £35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In 2014, they launched the worl...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Design Lead

    £23958 - £29282 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...

    Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

    £22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

    Recruitment Genius: HR Recruitment Advisor

    £21000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of children's ser...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones