Monday, August 5, 2013


Artistic Minds: McQueen - Part 2

A few weeks ago, I released the first part of my Artistic Minds series in which I talked about Frida Kahlo's life and work (read here).  This week, I want to continued the series with the second part, about the late designer Alexander McQueen and his great contributions to the fashion world, and in turn, the art world, through his creations.

Alexander McQueen

Lee Alexander McQueen was born in London, UK on March 17th, 1969.  He came from a "working class family" and had five siblings.  His mother was a "social science" teacher while his father was a taxi driver. When he was 16 years old, he left school and worked in tailor shops in the Mayfair district in London. Deciding to pursue his career and love for clothes, he went on to work with Angels and Bermans, who are "theatrical costume designers."  From these early years, he earned great skills in making "perfectly tailored clothing." All the great works that he did there became a great influence later on in his own collections. 

After coming back to London from Milan, he went to study at the Central Saint Martin's College of Art & Design, and in 1992 earned his M.A. in fashion design.  Isabella Blow, who would later on become a closed friend of his, purchased his entire collection that was inspired by "Jack The Ripper" as part of his last project upon completion of his degree.  A few years later, he ended up working for Givenchy and created his own business, the House of Alexander McQueen.  McQueen won the "British Designer of the Year Award" 4 times in his career (3 of those while at Givenchy), and in 2003 the CFDA honored him with the "International Designer of the Year" award.  

He is known for creating well elaborate clothes and for producing highly theatrical runway shows. His last show before his unexpected death, Plato's Atlantis, became one of his most recognized fashion shows. He passed away in 2010 (ruled as a suicide), shortly after his mother's death.  

In 2011, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York City hosted the exhibit Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in honor of his work. This exhibit became of of the most successful exhibitions by the museum to date.  His house is now under the direction of Sarah Burton. (For more info:

"For me, what I do is an artistic expression which is channeled through me. Fashion is just the medium." --Alexander McQueen

Early Embrace of Technology
"Robot Paint Dress" is an iconic piece from the Spring/Summer  RTW 1999 Collection. This was the closing part of the show in which the two machines spray painted the dress while the model rotated "on a turntable."

Fall/Winter 2009 Collection
This collection was full of reds, black, whites and a million prints.  The models usually featured black or red lipstick that went beyond the lips.  It was a very dark but romantic collection at the same time.  Hats seem to come from recycled materials as seen below.

Fall/Winter 2009
Recyclable hat

"I never look at other people's work. My mind has to be completely focused on my own illusions."
--Alexander McQueen

Fall/Winter 2009
"Crow Dress"
Although the idea of this dress is very dark, there's seems to be something so romantic about the silhouette of this dress.  This piece was featured in the "Romantic Gothic" section of Savage Beauty.
Source: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty (2011)

Fall/Winter 2008-2009
This is a wedding dress.  It was also featured on Savage Beauty book and the exhibition at the MET.
It is just simply beautiful.

This is probably one of my favorite McQueen's pieces.  The fact that the dress gives the illusion is put together just by flowers is extraordinary and demonstrates all the effort that went into his work.

"I want people to be afraid of the women I dress."
--Alexander McQueen

McQueen's pieces represented very dark and intimidating clothing that transforms women
 into very powerful figures, as seen above.

Photograph by Steven Meisel. Published in Vogue, May 2011.
Editorial Favorite: This macnificient dress is also featured on Savage Beauty

"I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists. I have to force people to look at things." 
--Alexander McQueen

Unforgettable shows:  This dress, made out of "red bugle beads" from the collection Joan (Autumn/Winter 1998-1999) is also another amazing piece from McQueen. The pieces gives the illusion of blood dripping down from the head to the floor, very striking and artistic at the same time.  

Plato's Atlantis: His last collection




Plato's Atlantis was McQueen's last collection shown in Fashion Week while he was alive.  The collection mixed the natural with the unnatural.  Butterfly and Snake prints were a big part of this fantastic show as well as 12 in. heels in the form of high heeled ballerina boots and alien-taking-over-your-feet pumps.
The show was an unforgettable piece of art.

"My collections have always been autobiographical, a lot to do with my own sexuality and coming to terms with the person I am - it was like exorcising my ghosts in the collections. They were to do with my childhood, the way I think about life and the way I was brought up to think about life."
 --Alexander McQueen

As a tribute to Alexander McQueen, check out my Pinterest Board "McQueen: The King of Artistic Fashion".

For more on Alexander McQueen, you can check the beautiful book Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty (2011) and VOGUEPEDIA's profile on the brand (here).

Please feel free to leave your comments below. Until next time. A+F by AM.

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