Alexander McQueen: Enfant terrible and fashion genius

Alexander McQueen was one of the most respected fashion designers in the world.

During an illustrious career, he won critical acclaim throughout the industry and had a string of awards to show for it.



Born in the East End of London in March 1969, he was the youngest of six children and left school at the age of 16.



The son of a taxi driver, he was already making dresses for his sisters at a young age but was given his first break at Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard after joining as an apprentice.



During his time working at Savile Row, his clients included the former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev and the Prince of Wales.



He then went on to work for Gieves & Hawkes and theatrical costumiers Angels and Bermans.



At the age of 20, he spent time working for Koji Tatsuno before switching to Milan.



His profile was elevated in the early 1990s when his own line of low "bumster" trousers were launched in London.



In 1994, he applied to London's prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and did not take long to make waves in the industry.



After receiving a masters degree in fashion design, his entire collection was famously bought by influential stylist Isabella Blow.



They remained close and McQueen was said to be devastated when she died aged 48 after swallowing weedkiller in May 2007.



She was credited with launching McQueen's career and was thought to have convinced McQueen to use his middle name - Alexander - instead of his first name Lee.



Although he developed a widespread following, his rebellious style was not to everyone's liking.



In 1996, he was dubbed the "hooligan of English fashion" and "enfant terrible" by the French press after being named head designer at Givenchy in Paris.



The tag was seen as a more of a reference to his close-cropped hair and Doc Martens than his fashion style and McQueen went on to silence his critics.



He caused controversy in 1998 with a show that included car robots spraying paint over white cotton dresses and a double amputee walking down the catwalk with wooden legs.



But his unconventional fashion shows, which once featured a life-sized hologram of supermodel Kate Moss, had became synonymous with his style.



He left Givenchy in 2001 after saying the role was "constraining his creativity" and went on to link up with Gucci to become creative director.



He was openly gay and, in the summer of 2000, married his lover George Forsyth, a documentary film maker.



The ceremony took place in Ibiza in a yacht with Moss reportedly a bridesmaid.



Singers Lady GaGa and Rihanna were also among his many celebrity fans.



By the end of 2006, he had boutiques across the world, including London, Paris, New York, Milan, Moscow and Beijing.



His honours included being named British designer of the year three times between 1996 and 2003.



He has also been awarded the CBE and was crowned International Designer of the Year at the Council of Fashion Designer Awards.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

    £32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

    Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss