Alexander McQueen was a British fashion designer and couturier.
Let’s see some fun facts about him!
1. Lee Alexander McQueen, CBE , was born 17 March 1969 in Lewisham, London.
2. His parents were Scottish taxi driver Ronald and social science teacher Joyce.
3. McQueen was the youngest of six children.
4. He reportedly grew up in a council flat, but, in fact, the McQueens moved to a terraced house in Stratford in his first year.
5. He attended Carpenters Road Primary School, started making dresses for his three sisters at a young age, and announced his intention to become a fashion designer.
6. McQueen later attended Rokeby School and left aged 16 in 1985 with one O-level in art, going on to serve an apprenticeship with Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard, before joining Gieves & Hawkes and, later, the theatrical costumiers Angels and Bermans.
7. While serving his apprenticeship, McQueen attended the Rosetta Art Centre led by Yvonne Humble, who also wrote his reference that saw him go straight on to an MA course at Central St Martins.
8. The skills he learned as an apprentice on Savile Row helped earn him a reputation in the fashion world as an expert in creating an impeccably tailored look.
9. While on Savile Row, McQueen’s clients included Mikhail Gorbachev and Prince Charles.
10. At the age of 20, he spent a period of time working for Koji Tatsuno before travelling to Milan, Italy and working for Romeo Gigli.
11. McQueen returned to London and applied to Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, to work as a pattern cutter tutor.
12. Because of the strength of his portfolio he was persuaded by Bobby Hillson, the Head of the Masters course, to enroll in the course as a student.
13. He received his master’s degree in fashion design and his 1992 graduation collection was bought in its entirety by influential fashion stylist Isabella Blow, who was said to have persuaded McQueen to become known as Alexander (his middle name) when he subsequently launched his fashion career.
14. Isabella Blow paved the way for Alexander McQueen using her unique style and contacts to help him she was in many ways his mentor.
15. McQueen’s early runway collections developed his reputation for controversy and shock tactics (earning the title “l’enfant terrible” and “the hooligan of English fashion”), with trousers aptly named “bumsters” and a collection titled “Highland Rape”.
16. He is known for having worked as chief designer at Givenchy from 1996 to 2001 and for founding his own Alexander McQueen label.
17. His achievements in fashion earned him four British Designer of the Year awards (1996, 1997, 2001 and 2003), as well as the CFDA’s International Designer of the Year award in 2003.
18. McQueen’s most celebrated and dramatic catwalk show was his 2001 Spring/Summer collection, named VOSS. The centre piece tableau that dominated the room was an enormous glass box. But because the room outside the box was lit and the inside of the box was unlit, the glass walls appeared as large mirrors, so that the seated audience saw only their own reflection. Finally, after an hour, and when the show began, lights came on inside the enormous glass case and revealed the interior to be filled with moths and, at the centre, a naked model on a chaise longue with her face obscured by a gas mask. The glass walls then fell away and smashed on the ground.
19. Some of McQueen’s accomplishments included being one of the youngest designers to achieve the title “British Designer of the Year”, which he won four times between 1996 and 2003; he was also awarded the CBE and named International Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers in 2003.
20. December 2000 saw a new partnership for McQueen, with the Gucci Group’s acquiring 51% of his company and McQueen’s serving as Creative Director.
21. Plans for expansion included the opening of stores in London, Milan, and New York, and the launch of his perfumes Kingdom and, most recently, My Queen. In 2005, McQueen collaborated with Puma to create a special line of trainers for the shoe brand.
22. In 2006, he launched McQ, a younger, more renegade lower-priced line for men and women.
23. McQueen became the first designer to participate in MAC’s promotion of cosmetic releases created by fashion designers.
24. The collection, McQueen, was released on 11 October 2007 and reflected the looks used on the Autumn/Winter McQueen catwalk.
25. The inspiration for the collection was the 1963 Elizabeth Taylor movie Cleopatra, and thus the models sported intense blue, green, and teal eyes with strong black liner extended Egyptian-style. McQueen handpicked the makeup.
26. McQueen was openly gay and said he realized his sexual orientation when he was six years old.
27. He told his family when he was 18 and, after a rocky period, they accepted his sexuality.
28. He described coming out at a young age by saying, “I was sure of myself and my sexuality and I’ve got nothing to hide. I went straight from my mother’s womb onto the gay parade”.
29. In the summer of 2000, McQueen had a marriage ceremony with his partner George Forsyth, a documentary filmmaker, on a yacht in Ibiza. The marriage was not official, as same-sex marriage in Spain was not legal at that time. The relationship ended a year later, with McQueen and Forsyth maintaining a close friendship.
30. McQueen was an avid scuba diver and used his passion as a source of inspiration in his designs, including spring 2010’s “Plato’s Atlantis”. Much of his diving was done around the Maldives.
31. McQueen’s death was announced on the afternoon of 11 February 2010. In the morning, his housekeeper found him hanged at his home in Green Street, London W1. Paramedics were called and they pronounced him dead at the scene.
32. McQueen died nine days after his mother Joyce had died from cancer at the age of 75. David LaChapelle, a friend of the designer, said that McQueen “was doing a lot of drugs and was very unhappy” at the time of his death.
33. McQueen left a note saying, “Look after my dogs, sorry, I love you, Lee.”
34. McQueen, who had been diagnosed with mixed anxiety and depressive disorder, took an overdose prior to hanging himself. He had taken drug overdoses in May and July 2009.
35. In 2016, it was announced that Jack O’Connell will play McQueen in an upcoming biographical film about his life.