Terry Jones: Creatively, when he did something, it was always beautiful

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The Independent Online

I knew Lee [Alexander McQueen's original name] on a professional level from the time we featured him, straight after he'd graduated from Central St Martins along with five or six other graduates, and you could tell, even back then, he was an outstanding talent. He wanted to be photographed from behind – that's how he wanted to present himself – so that's how we shot him.

We continued to feature him throughout his career, and he probably has more credits in our current issue than any other designer. I worked on a project in 1998, for the fashion and cinema biennale in Florence. We'd met independently before this but we sat down over a lunch, as we wanted to work with him.

He came up with an idea instantly and said he'd agree to work with us if we could produce his idea, which consisted of a girl – or synchronised swimmer – travelling up and down in a glass tube wearing one of his dresses. He drew a sketch of what he wanted. I don't know whether he had ever done synchronised swimming himself, but he said he loved swimming.

That was an example of how he could come up with an idea instantly, and his ideas were always super sharp. We all saw that in the last collection he ever presented, which was amazing.

But with Lee, you would almost never catch him after a show. He did the show and then he'd just disappear. For him, it was all about the event, the show itself, it was not about meeting the press afterwards. I would make a point of going to his shows whenever I could, and meet him to tell him what I felt about the show I'd just seen.

Creatively, when he did something, it would always be beautiful. His aim was not to shock, and his memorable shows had such incredible power, such as the one that featured Kate Moss as a hologram. He had a poetry in what he would do, but there was also a dark side. He was a fine craftsman too, having learnt tailoring on Savile Row.

He made some amazing contributions to our special projects. One was against the Iraq war, for which he made a scarf design with two images of Tony Blair's face which he called "Two Face", which expressed his political disappointment.

There are people at i-D who worked with Lee and they are devastated by his death, people who had a very close relationship with him. I believe in celebrating life and we will, in future issues, definitely endeavour to celebrate who he was and what he did.

I think he expressed himself best in the work that he did. He inspired so many people, and there are many designers who worked with him, who have talked about how inspiring he was. I think his creative talent was extremely special, and on that level he will be very, very missed.

Terry Jones is Editor-in-chief of i-D magazine

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