Alexander McQueen was an astonishingly influential artist whose primary medium was clothing. When McQueen put on a fall 2009 collection that was based on the Salem Witch Trials, he wasn’t doing it as an attention-getter (though it certainly did). This was a man who made artistic statements by way of extreme and outrageously imaginative clothing that was always tailored impeccably. He was up there with the legendary Cristobal Balenciaga in terms of construction skill.
Though McQueen did design a limited edition line of clothing for Target, his vision was otherworldly. His role in the fashion industry was quite different from that of the universally esteemed designers like Giorgio Armani and Tom Ford – the designers who designed for the upper class version of the workaday world. Only 40 when he died on Feb. 11 of an apparent suicide, McQueen had been distraught since the death of his mother earlier in the month.
Though a collection was to be shown at New York Fashion Week without McQueen, it was cancelled after the announcement of his death. McQueen grew up in London’s East End. His father was a taxi driver. McQueen drew his first sketch of a dress when he was a tiny child, and left school at 16 to learn tailoring. By all accounts he learned it exceptionally. Many people considered him the most talented and skilled tailor in the world. The arc of his life was short, but shone with the brightness of a thousand stars, and he will be sorely missed by the world of fashion and the world of art.
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