Lee Alexander McQueen’s untimely death has left a gaping wound in the side of the fashion industry. Forcing us, me in particular, to question how and why someone who was so successful and so young felt the need to take his own life. When I think of the clothing McQueen created I see no signs of the sadness that must have lain behind the designs.
As a young Savile Row cutter he famously scrawled some chalk graffiti into the lining of a jacket destined for the Prince of Wales. This silent rebellion combined with his technically brilliant skills, shows that right from the beginning, he was a challenge to the establishment and yet too gifted to be ignored. The McQueen signature was superbly cut clothes designed to shock and generate attention. He won British Designer of the Year award four times for the flair he exhibited in using classic tailoring to push the boundaries of fashion.
I am amazed that this tour de force will no longer set our catwalks alight, or will he? I wait with interest to see what the powers that be decide to do with the collection he has designed for Autumn/Winter 2010 and I will also look for clues to what makes genius wipe itself out. We lose so many brilliant people at their own hand and I wonder if this contributes to the way that we remember them. Leaving us still wanting more, do they catapult themselves further into our minds as iconic? Doubtless this is never their intention but a by-product of us being denied access to their skills as and when we desire them.
Selfishly too, I’m thinking of a McQueen caged bodice that I ummed and urred about last season. How I now wish that I had invested in that recent part of his genius, an opportunity to own a piece of greatness that cannot be replicated. I could zip this cage onto my body and wear it as I type, as an ode to this lost legend.