Lee Alexander McQueen CBE 1969 – 2010

It was announced on the afternoon of 11th February 2010 that the iconic fashion designer Alexander McQueen had been found dead in his London home. He was found hanged in a wardrobe by his housekeeper and pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. A note was found with the body fueling speculation that Lee, as known by his friends, had indeed killed himself.

The tragedy occurred a mere nine days after the death of his beloved mother, Joyce. The designer was infamous for his infatuation with his parents and was intent on pleasing them. It is widely noted that McQueen reluctantly overcame his anarchist ways to accept a CBE in 2003 solely for their contentment. Born in the east end of London, Lee’s father was a cabbie and he grew up making dresses for his three sisters. After having quit school at sixteen the ‘enfant terrible’ gained an apprenticeship on Savile Row making suits for the royalty. McQueen famously scrawled obscenities in biro over the lining of a suit destined for Prince Charles. This was simply a taster of things to come in the tumultuous career of the self-confessed ‘macabre’ designer.

McQueen was named England’s designer of the year four times between 1996 and 2003. His designs used shock tactics to grab the attention of the fashion elite. From the ‘bumster’ trousers to his collection named ‘Highland Rape’ – McQueen was the wild child of fashion. With an exquisite talent in tailoring, his outlandish shows and conceptual designs were always grounded by an unparalleled eye for precision.

His untimely death preceded this season’s London Fashion Week by just a few days. Hours before fashion week opened the designer’s close friend, Kate Moss, paid tribute by wearing one of his designs created for the Fashion For Relief Haiti charity event. Moss wept as the dress was auctioned off eventually reaching £100,000, a bid made by Arcadia boss, Sir Philip Green.

Fashion Week commenced shortly afterwards, headed by British Fashion Council chairman, Harold Tillman. The world of fashion held a minute’s silence to commemorate the death of the icon, despite admiring reflection though, nobody can truly and accurately comprehend the loss to fashion that this tragedy has incurred.

Grace Gordon


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