I am still stunned from Thursday’s news of the apparent suicide of Alexander McQueen. He was the one designer that caused me to start really paying attention to couture fashion and to hunt online to find more images of his designs. For a designer who often paid homage to fashions of the past, his work always felt distinctly fresh rather than derivative.
I even remember the show that did it for me. Fall 2006. The internet had finally grown up; businesses and media had finally shifted to presenting useful content online rather than just having an information page at their reserved web addresses. And Style.com had gone so far as to archive their runway photographs with a handy look book feature that allowed me to pick and choose looks from any designer or show going back several years and save them for easy access later.
Sure, I had been aware of Alexander McQueen in general. But I was living in a small town about 12 miles from the Canadian border where even getting the twice annual runway highlight issues put out by WWD or Vogue was an iffy proposition.
This was the dress.
Simple, yet perfect. It still makes my heart skip a beat. I even went so far as to print out a copy to keep in the ‘inspirations’ sketch book that I use for my own, much less ambitious, personal dressmaking designs. It reaffirmed for me that there were still individual inspiring designers that I needed to be watching. So much of fashion had become casual, repetitive and disposable. Alexander McQueen’s designs were anything but this.
After this, I never lost my love for his stunning designs and impeccable craftsmanship. Unfortunately, whether or not the House of McQueen survives his demise is a question none of us knows the answer to at this time. Plus, his vision was so distinctive and recognizable that finding someone to continue in his name and to be true to that vision may simply not be possible – it certainly would explain why I could not find a piece of McQueen left in stock in my price range when I popped over to Saks.com on Friday (although some of the pricier pieces are still available). The death of an artist instantly raises the value of any remaining pieces to those who wish to own a piece authentic to that designer; any chance at buying a ‘true McQueen’ at non-inflated prices will only last as long as current retail stock holds out (There was still a handful of McQueen shoes and accessories still in stock at Zappos and Net-a-porter when I checked a short while ago.)
So now, a retrospective look at an artistic career and life that ended much too soon, in runway photos:
(All runway photos are sourced from Style.com)
Spring 2005 (A bit of a McQueen retrospective in it’s own right):
I could probably editorialize at length on each season. But really, the work speaks for itself.
Bittersweet though it is, I hope you enjoyed reminiscing over the designs of a true artist.