Friday, May 6, 2011

Designer of the Month: Alexander McQueen

I decided that May's Designer of the Month would be timely. I wanted to chose a contemporary designer whose work spoke to a modern audience, and Alexander McQueen seemed like the perfect choice. From Kate Middleton's stunning Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen dress to the designer's current retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the immediacy of McQueen coupled with the fact that in 2 years, I've yet to look specifically at a fashion designer as my Designer of the Month, really does make him the perfect choice.

Alexander Mcqueen. Photograph by Raymond Ezquerra.

Born in London on March 17, 1969, Lee Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) was a fashion designer who brought a fantastic imagination and sense of theatrics and artistry to all of his creations. As the youngest of six children, McQueen never quite fit in at home. His eccentricities were evident from an early age, as was his homosexuality - he was often bullied and teased at school - causing McQueen to retreat into his own world, where he made fashion his means of escape.[2] His visions, often dark and not necessarily wearable, may seem more like works of art than clothing, but McQueen got his start in the fashion world in the most traditional of ways.

Alexander McQueen, Ensemble, from the collection "It’s a Jungle Out There," autumn/winter 1997–98. Jacket of brown pony skin with impala horns, trousers of bleached denim. Courtesy of Alexander McQueen and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photography by Sølve Sundsbø.

I've always found fashion to be a very tricky thing. It's something that inspires strong emotions, both good and bad, in many people. Unlike architects, whose work often takes years, and for whom it's easy to pick out a handful of exceptional examples to focus on, fashion is very much a seasonal pursuit, and new collections are very much dependent on the weather. As a result, instead of doing things thematically, I'm going much broader this month, discussing McQueen's life and showing examples of his designs over the course of the next three weeks. I hope you'll all join me.

[1] Kristin Knox, "Introduction," in Alexander McQueen: Genius of A Generation (London: A & C Black Publishers Limited, 2010), 7.

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