mcqueen is dead.
when he was establishing himself in the global world of fashion around the time he got chosen for the gig at givenchy by bernard arnault himself, i was in school learning the craft of making clothes. every one of my classmates that was hip and cool admired him for his obvious talent. the cover of bjork’s homogenic album, the car-robots spray-painting white cotton dress on shalom harlow, the usage of double amputee model aimee mullins in his show with carved wooden legs all confirmed mcqueen’s genius. pure creativity. his fashion shows were really a show with such strong identity – strong, dark romantics, and always a bit tragic.
let’s look at it at a different angle. mcqueen once famously said: “i’m mad in the front of my mind, but business-minded in the back”. in that regards, we have to mention tom ford, who took a 3 millions us dollars gucci business and grew it 1000 folds within 10 years. creatively, not many people are missing ford’s creations. however, holistically, ford is every bit a genius designer as all the great ones in the past. the same can be said about reed krakoff of coach.
gucci already announced the continuation of the label. outsiders such as the financial analysts are betting that it will be closed in the future, insiders are optimistic that it will go to the next level commercially since now there will be less dreams and more reality. labels survives pass its founder, but there are not many yves saint laurents in the world to save all the dior, and there are not many nicolas ghesquieres to resurrect all the balenciaga. for me, mcqueen the label is now just a skeleton with no soul.
suicide is never right, but some people are hard to be imagined growing old: james dean, leslie cheung, and now alexander mcqueen. einstein, stephen hawking, and leonardo da vinci live well into their latter years, but some geniuses do die young. being british, mcqueen chose to hang himself. i guess there is some sort of tradition. american tends to employ guns, such as the case of kurt cobain. and carbon dioxide poisoning is more popular in some asian countries. they are probably saying something about each culture and its history.
one can be talented, creative, and / or commercial gifted. however, as a designer, the most important is to be true to oneself. lee mcqueen was.
(first published in his life magazine)