Thursday, February 11, 2010

As Good As Fashion Gets-RIP, Alexander McQueen

As the start of New York Fashion Week began this morning, the industry was shocked and saddened to learn that one of their own, a most gifted and visionary designer, had died.
The news of Alexander McQueen's death spread like wildfire via Facebook status updates (how I found out), blogs and news outlets via the internet.

McQueen was truly an incredible artist with a genius, creative mind. I learned this not so much from his clothing but from the shows that he put on season-after-season. Being out of the fashion loop for 3 years, I'm hard pressed to remember many shows from his contemporaries and peers. But I can rattle off at least three seasons of McQueen pret-a-porter shows that made an impact on me.

The first true memorable fashion spectacle (and really, it was a spectacle from start to finish...) was from his Spring 2004 show held in October of 2003 at the Salle Wagram in Paris, a historic, gorgeous theatre near the Arc de Triomphe.
It was modeled after the 1969 Sydney Pollack-directed film, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, set during the Depression era and centered around a grueling dance marathon competition. This was one of my first introductions to how Paris fashion truly set itself apart from the rest of the pack. It was theatre to the highest degree and from that point forward I knew that McQueen was a true genius. I had never seen anything like it before. And the clothes were magnificent both on the stage and up-close-and-personal. This is someone who learned his craft on Savile Row, making custom suits for royalty and heads of state and it always showed in his impeccable tailoring.

The second show that comes to mind is his Fall 2005 show, "The Man Who Knew Too Much" held in Paris in March of 2005. I remember it because as a Hitchcock fan, I saved the invitation for its homage to Vertigo .
Years later I had it framed as a fashion memorabilia souvenir from "my glory days as a fashionista." I'm really glad I saved many of the items I received as an editor, whether it was the invitations or even the goofy trinkets that often came with the envelopes. It was at this show, very inspired by the Hitchcock Blondes of the 60s, that McQueen also gave out plaid blankets for us attendees to cover with. The hall was very cavernous and extremely chilly and the wool blankets were cozy as we sat for the show to begin. I still have my blanket (pictured here on Carine Roitfeld's lap as well as in one of his looks as a poncho) and will always be reminded of McQueen's terrific theatre he delivered season after season.

The third brilliant memory of a McQueen fashion show was his Fall 2006 Collection, shown in Paris in March of 2006. Now this was the one that ended with a glass pyramid in the center of the runway/stage. Inside it appeared a puff of smoke that moved and swayed until it shaped into a figure of a woman...that woman being Kate Moss. It was incredibly beautiful and downright magical. This time I really forgot about the clothes (can't remember the collection whatsoever) but the image of Kate Moss coming from the billowy smoke is something I'll never forget. And we will never forget Alexander McQueen.

Spring 2004 Collection images from
Fall 2005 Collection images from

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