The Year in Review: Alexander McQueen

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The Independent Online

Supreme self-publicist and maestro of the sartorial shock, Alexander McQueen was couture's equivalent of Damien Hirst. Brash, blunt and a feminist's nightmare, he became the darling of the front row with his spectacular shows and ability to create jaw-dropping moments. These included women's mouths encased in savage steel mouthpieces and the image of a starving Ethiopian printed on a jacket. One of his earliest collections was called "Highland Rape".

The son of a London cabbie, Lee McQueen – renamed Alexander, as in "Alexander the Great", by his patron and mentor, the late Isabella Blow – started his career as a trainee tailor at Anderson & Sheppard, then Gieves & Hawkes on Savile Row. McQueen claimed he had sewn a few choice words into the lining of the Prince of Wales's lapel while constructing one of his jackets in the workroom.

At the core of McQueen's look was the tailoring and ability to cut cloth to flatter. He will be famous for his statements, his Englishness, and for some for his misogynist tendencies, rather than for his clothes alone.


Born 17 March 1969; died 11 February 2010.