Lee Alexander McQueen was a British fashion designer admired by experts and fans alike for his fantastical and dramatic dresses. He also designed equally remarkable shoes and bags that made his name one of the most recognizable both in fashion and art. Aside from his creations, he was known for his unapologetic attitude towards his unconventional background and appearance, breaking the mold of a conventional designer. To know more about this unorthodox and rebellious icon, here are the following facts:
1. He came from a working class family.
- McQueen was the youngest of six children who grew up in a council flat in London’s East End. His mother was a social sciences teacher and his father was a taxi driver.
- He was open about his origins, as seen in his own clothing choices. His ensemble was once described as a “lumberjack shirt with the most low-class kind of schlubby-looking jeans”.
2. McQueen was aware of his sexuality since he was a child.
- He realized he was gay when he was six years-old and came out to his family at eighteen.
- For this reason, McQueen called himself the “pink sheep” of the family.
3. He began his career with men’s clothing.
- After dropping out of high school, McQueen found work on Savile Row creating made-to-order suits. He worked for the tailors Anderson and Shepard, then Gieves and Hawkes.
- After design school and before launching his own label, he moved to women’s clothing. He became the head designer for Louis Vuitton’s Givenchy fashion line.
4. McQueen was known for designing bold and dramatic clothes.
- His experience in creating theater costumes and stage costumes (some for David Bowie) influenced his designs for his own fashion line.
- McQueen’s pieces are famous for their violent and grotesque elements, as well as their dark romantic themes. His entire first collection, inspired by Jack the Ripper, was bought by famous fashion director and stylist Isabella Blow.
5. He created statement pieces that brought him sensational media attention.
- McQueen created “bumster” pants that have a very low-cut waistline that exposed the cleavage of the buttocks.
- He also created ten-inch “armadillo” boots, so called for their appearance similar to the animal’s hooves. Lady Gaga created frenzy across the internet for wearing such a pair in her “Bad Romance” music video.
6. McQueen was also famous for his shocking and controversial fashion shows.
- His “Highland Rape” collection involved torn lace and bodices worn by models who were made up to appear beaten and bloodied.
- One of McQueen’s shows included former paralympian Aimee Mullins who walked the runway wearing hand-carved prosthetic legs.
7. He committed suicide after his mother died.
- McQueen was found dead one day before his mother’s funeral. Three years previously, Isabella took her own life, McQueen describing it as “the most valuable thing I learnt in fashion”.
- He reportedly left £50,000 to his dogs and £100,000 each to four charities, two of which are for animal welfare.
Alexander McQueen’s rise from a poor high school dropout to a world-renowned fashion titan is a truly remarkable story. His sensational designs and flair for the dramatic have brought the fashion world some its best and most memorable creations.