segunda-feira, 4 de novembro de 2013

Alexander McQueen VOGUE PERSONALITIES – VOGUEPEDIA



Alexander McQueen

VOGUE PERSONALITIES – VOGUEPEDIA



Photograph by Steven Meisel. Published in Vogue, May 2011.

In the summer of 1992, the London press was all a-scribble about Lee Alexander McQueen’s master’s-thesis collection, “Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims.” Among the dark, sexy, Dickensian delights from this cocky son of a cab driver were a thorn-print, silk frock coat with a three-point “origami” tail and a bustle-backed tuxedo with dagger-like, red-lined lapel—both with locks of human hair sewn into the lining. The presentation showed remarkable polish; but, then, the ambitious McQueen was already remarkably experienced: At sixteen, he’d ditched his schoolbooks and taken up a pair of scissors on Savile Row. Particularly charmed by the swaggering East Ender was the editor Isabella Blow of British Vogue, who snapped up his first effort in entirety and swept the designer under her influential wing.

Early on, Alexander, as he called himself professionally, cultivated a reputation as Britain’s baddest bad-boy designer. “Nicey-nicey just doesn’t do it for me,”
[1] he once boasted...
In the summer of 1992, the London press was all a-scribble about Lee Alexander McQueen’s master’s-thesis collection, “Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims.” Among the dark, sexy, Dickensian delights from this cocky son of a cab driver were a thorn-print, silk frock coat with a three-point “origami” tail and a bustle-backed tuxedo with dagger-like, red-lined lapel—both with locks of human hair sewn into the lining. The presentation showed remarkable polish; but, then, the ambitious McQueen was already remarkably experienced: At sixteen, he’d ditched his schoolbooks and taken up a pair of scissors on Savile Row. Particularly charmed by the swaggering East Ender was the editor Isabella Blow of British Vogue, who snapped up his first effort in entirety and swept the designer under her influential wing.

Early on, Alexander, as he called himself professionally, cultivated a reputation as Britain’s baddest bad-boy designer. “Nicey-nicey just doesn’t do it for me,”
[1] he once boasted. On his runway, punk-haired models flipped off the audience and flashed their buttock cleavage. (His notorious Bumster trousers, at first derided by the press, got a boost when the pop queen Madonna wore them in a commercial for MTV; they would later be credited for the trend in low-rise jeans.) At the end of one show, he took his bow by mooning all assembled. Sure of his genius, he blew off interviews—and, according to the writer Hamish Bowles, once intimated he couldn’t give a “flying fuck”[2] for American Vogue. He even stood up Irving Penn.
McQueen concocted his sartorial fantasies in a tiny mad-scientist laboratory off Hoxton Square, London. He could cut a suit jacket straight from a bolt of cloth, quick as Edward Scissorhands, and had acquired a taste for drama during a stint at a costumer’s. His garments soared to angelic heights (as when his models donned lacy balsa-wood wings) and swooped to Gothic lows, with macabre elements drawn from the netherworld of nightmares: Taxidermied birds of prey hovered menacingly above the wearer’s bandaged head; torturous “corsets” were fashioned with metal ribs and spine, and baby crocodile heads became gruesome epaulets.
In McQueen’s breakthrough 1995 collection, “Highland Rape”—addressing the abuses rained upon his Scottish forbears by the English—models walked the runway in tatters of lace and spatters of faux blood. “The McQueen experience tapped into a whole new range of emotions and psychoses,”[3] Vogue reported in 1999. Repeatedly accused of misogyny, McQueen insisted his only aim was to empower. “I want people to be afraid of the women I dress,” he said.[4]
This fevered creativity was coupled with a desire to shock and awe. “It all began with the show,” the house historian, Trino Verkade, recalled in 2011. “Lee saw the collections as both garments and mise-en-scène—plus the music.”[5] Ringside at Alexander McQueen, “the front-row set . . . is as tense as cats,”[6] observed Time in 2003. The designer once lined up his guests in the pews of a church—next to a grinning skeleton. He greeted them with the spine-tingling sounds of screeching birds and car crashes, and startled them with snarling wolves. Models braved rain, artificial snow, gale-force winds, fire, and ice. They flew perilously close to a giant bed of nails, and danced to exhaustion. They became clowns and conquistadors, mental patients and wild beasts, androids and human chess pieces.
Working with McQueen to spin his nightmares into reality was a tight-knit circle of collaborators: the jeweler Shaun Leane, the milliner Philip Treacy, the stylist Katy England, the art director Simon Costin, and the producer Sam Gainsbury. But take away the showmanship, and the clothes still leave you dazzled. McQueen was a technical virtuoso. Boned corsets and structured bodices lent strength to fragile tulle and lace. Coats billowed like the sails of a brigantine. Red-painted glass medical slides made for grimly glittering paillettes on the bodice of a showy ostrich-plume dress. A regal column was fashioned from razor-clam shells.
Some pieces bore the most exquisite ornamentation, with painstaking jet- and bugle-bead embroidery—an art the designer honed during his tenure in the 1990s at the Parisian couture house Givenchy. It was there that his Brothers Grimm fantasies acquired more romantic overtones. With the artisans of the Givenchy atelier at his disposal, he began to work more elaborately and with greater complexity. “I learned lightness . . . to soften,” he once said.[7]
In 2000, McQueen inked a deal with Gucci Group, which took a controlling stake but allowed him to retain full creative reign. The backing helped elevate his brand to the next level, commercially. Flagships opened in New York, London, and Milan, and fragrances were soon sold alongside eyewear and handbags (adorned with the brand’s signature crystal skull). Menswear was introduced in 2004, followed by a secondary line, McQ, in 2006.
In the autumn of 2009, McQueen hit a creative high with a spring collection called “Plato’s Atlantis.” The hair and makeup magicians Guido Palau and Peter Philips worked with him to transform models into sci-fi sea creatures. Excited about his brand’s first live-streamed show, McQueen was already dreaming of beaming holographic shows onto glass pyramids around the globe. “This is the birth of a new dawn,” he told WWD. “I am going to take you on journeys you’ve never dreamed were possible.”[8]
Just four months later, following the death of his beloved mother, the designer took his own life. “Creativity is a very fragile thing, and Lee was very fragile,”[9] his longtime collaborator Treacy said. Despite his rough edges, “Lee was a shy, sensitive man with the antennae of a rare creature,”[10] Harriet Quick of British Vogue reflected.
Sarah Burton, who’d worked alongside McQueen for fourteen years, put the finishing touches on his last collection of sixteen pieces and sent them out for his final bow. A tour de force, the romantic collection, full of historical references, was beautifully exemplified in the final piece: a high-collared coat of gilded duck-feathers, worn over a skirt of finely embroidered tulle. Winged creatures had always held a place in McQueen’s imagination: “I try and transpose the beauty of a bird to women,”[11] he had said.
In May 2010, Burton quietly took up her mentor’s mantle, drawing from the rich tapestry of designs he left behind while weaving in her own brilliant touches. With Burton in command, the house has taken a softer, more feminine turn; the runway extravaganzas have given way to simpler, polished displays of Burton’s own formidable sartorial skills. In April 2011, her talent was on glorious display in the divine lace wedding dress worn by Catherine Middleton for her marriage to Prince William. The global exposure of the royal event—as well as a record-breaking number of visitors to the Met Costume Institute’s 2011 McQueen retrospective “Savage Beauty”—has translated into a boost in profits for the brand. Today, fulfilling McQueen’s long-held dreams of commercial growth, Burton, who is putting more of an accent on wearability, has grand plans for the label to appear with greater frequency in real-world women’s wardrobes.
“Here was a designer who would propel fashion forward on a meteor’s trajectory,”[12] Bowles said of McQueen in 1999. Burton is steering the house right along its shining path.

HISTORY
Lee Alexander McQueen graduates from prestigious M.A. course at Central Saint Martins design college, London. Forms a mutual admiration society with Isabella Blow of British Vogue. “She came marching through with these great collapsed black organza horns on her head,” McQueen will later say. “I just thought she was incredibly fab. She bought the entire collection, and after that she was well in with me!”[13] He moves into her home and sets up a tiny studio off Hoxton Square. In order to continue receiving welfare checks, Lee—as he will always be known to family and friends—uses his middle name, Alexander, for his fledgling label.
Presents his first collection, “Taxi Driver,” on a clothes rack at the Ritz; low-slung “Bumster” trousers—meant to elongate the torso—appear for the first time. In October, he shows a Spring collection called “Nihilism.”
Meets stylist Katy England, who will become one of his closest collaborators (and later, creative director of the label). March: He shows “Banshee” collection. April: A film—featuring images of transvestites, as well as photographs by Man Ray and Mary Ellen Mark—is shown to introduce the label Stateside. “Classic tailoring with a hint of perversity,” McQueen describes his look to WWD. “I want to give New York a kick up the ass, really.”[14] October: “The Birds” collection presented.
· 
March: Presents “Highland Rape” collection. McQueen’s signature red-and-black tartan, shot through with yellow, appears for the first time. The controversial show puts him on the map and secures his bad-boy reputation. October: “The Hunger” collection marks the first appearance of men’s designs—including taffeta suits— and is the first of producer Sam Gainsbury’s spectacular shows for McQueen.
· 
Named British Designer of the Year by the British Fashion Council. Central Saint Martins student Sarah Burton begins interning at the studio. First small collection of menswear launches; several more will follow in coming years—all to lukewarm sales. March: “Dante” show is staged inside the Baroque Christ Church, Spitalfields. “I think religion has caused every war in the world, which is why I showed in a church,”[15] he says. April: The New York version of the show is held in a former synagogue. Fall: Japanese mega-corporation Onward Kashiyama comes on as backer; subsidiary Gibo produces the line. September: Vogue reports on the first Biennale di Firenze in Florence, Italy, which features specially designed rooms by McQueen and others. October: LVMH taps McQueen to helm Parisian couture house Givenchy. His relationship with the luxury conglomerate will be contentious, but he will gain valuable exposure to haute-couture techniques.
· 
American Express begins sponsoring McQueen’s runway shows; their support, combined with his Givenchy salary, allows him to move into more spacious quarters on Amwell Street. Vogue writer Katherine Betts asks the burning question, “Does McQueen have enough talent to keep Givenchy going?”[16] McQueen again wins BFC Designer of the Year, this time sharing the honor with Dior designer—and fellow showman—John Galliano.
· 
March: Vogue writer Katherine Betts spotlights “The Extreme Team”—designers McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, Yohji Yamamoto, and Issey Miyake. December: McQueen named VH1/Vogue Avant-Garde Designer of the Year. The magazine spotlights his “brilliantly anarchic take on the classics—think Sid Vicious doing it
‘My Way’ . . . ”
[17]
· 
Burton named head of womenswear. Following two months of talks, LVMH rival Gucci Group (owned by luxury giant PPR) acquires a controlling stake—51 percent—in the label. McQueen named creative director and given full artistic control. “He’s very creative and very talented,” Gucci CEO Domenico tells The Washington Post. “He’s very committed to building the brand. He works like a maniac.”[18] De Sole and Gucci creative director Tom Ford will be key supporters until their departure in 2004.
· 
February: Again wins British Fashion Council’s Designer of the Year; the award is presented by Prince Charles. (As fashion lore has it, McQueen, as an apprentice on Savile Row in the eighties, scrawled an obscenity into the lining of a suit jacket ordered by the prince.) March: Presents his final show for Givenchy. June: Gucci Group’s YSL Beauté secures a ten-year license to create and distribute fragrances and cosmetics under the McQueen name. October: With the “Dance of the Twisted Bull” collection, McQueen begins showing in Paris alongside the major houses. November: Former Harvey Nichols executive Susan Whiteley named CEO. Tokyo boutique opens with engraved quotations from Dante’s Inferno adorning the interior.
· 
First ad campaign launched, for fall. July: New York flagship, designed by architect William Russell, opens in the Meatpacking District. Entry to the store is gained via a tunnel designed like a lightbox; hand-carved wooden mannequins dangle from the ceiling; and a Victorian-era cut-glass box displays couture pieces. Bespoke menswear launched in collaboration with Savile Row tailor H. Huntsman & Sons; David Bowie will soon be seen sporting the sharp suits. December: McQueen named VH1/Vogue Revolutionary Designer of the Year. Madonna, Whitney Houston, Jerry Hall, and Julianne Moore are among the stars donning the label this year, Vogue.co.uk reports. “I don’t court celebrities, they come to me,” he says. “It is important to me that I dress women whom I admire.”[19]
· 
Again named BFC British Designer of the Year. March: Kingdom, the house’s first fragrance, hits stores worldwide. Vogue writer Plum Sykes chats with McQueen about the new scent, packaged in heart-shaped red Venetian glass inside a metal “egg.” London flagship opens on Old Bond Street. A store will also later open in Milan. June: McQueen receives the CFDA’s International Award. Named Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. “It is a great privilege to receive this honour,” he says. “I now formally urge the British Government to match this recognition by investing in manufacturing and new talent—the foundation of British Fashion.”[20] October: Gucci Group reports McQueen profits have doubled over the past year.
· 
April: Eyewear launched with Safilo Group. September: Fresh on the heels of a major menswear launch, McQueen is named GQ Menswear Designer of the Year. November: Also receives BFC Menswear Designer of the Year honors.
· 
June: First full collection of handbags launches with the new signature Novak style—named after Hitchcock blonde Kim Novak—as centerpiece. “There is a kind of strength and a bit of aggression in it; it’s almost like a cage,” the designer tells WWD. “It does strengthen a woman’s appearance.”[21] July: To wed Toby Rowland, Vogue contributor Plum Sykes wears a corseted white silk-paper taffeta sheath with serpentine train, designed by her old friend McQueen. September: Men’s and women’s footwear line for (PPR-owned) Puma launches. Vogue beauty editor Sarah Brown admires the faceted Art Nouveau-style glass flacon. October: My Queen fragrance introduced.
· 
March: “Widows of Culloden” collection debuts. A ghostly hologram of longtime friend Kate Moss, ethereal in a swirl of chiffon ruffles, closes the show. May: Vogue spotlights the best of British fashion—including McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, and John Galliano—from the Met Costume Institute exhibit “AngloMania.” McQueen and pal Sarah Jessica Parker sport his signature tartan at the annual gala. June: McQ secondary line hits stores. “There’s a part of me that is very couture and a part of me that is very street. The main line is more conceptual, this is more cinematic. It’s inspired by my favourite underground films. I love road movies, like Buffalo ’66 and Paris, Texas, [and] London music, like goth and rockabilly,”[22] he tells Style magazine.
· 
March: A collection called “In Memory of Elizabeth Howe, Salem 1692” is a tribute to his ancestor, who had been condemned as a Salem witch. May: McQueen’s longtime mentor and muse Isabella Blow commits suicide. July: Vogue columnist André Leon Talley pens “Blithe Spirit,” a tribute to the late, influential British stylist. October: Alexander McQueen for MAC makeup collection—inspired by artist Charlotte Tilbury’s mesmerizing Egyptian look for the fall runway—hits stores. October: McQueen dedicates his spring show, “La Dame Bleue,” to Blow.
· 
The business moves to roomier digs on trendy Clerkenwell Road, London. February: The brand announces it has achieved profitability for the first time. April: Los Angeles flagship opens. September: For Vogue, photographer David Sims captures the majestic fall collection—and writer Mark Holgate examines the 16th-century elm that inspired it. October: McQueen’s limited-edition bottle design for Chivas Regal eighteen-year-old scotch has a royal-blue leather body and hand-enameled metal cap in the colors of the Union Jack.
· 
January: Alexander McQueen Puma, a full range of sportswear and accessories, debuts in Milan with Ghost, a short film by Saam Farahmand and McQueen. March: McQ Alexander McQueen for Target collection hits the racks at the mega-retailer’s stores nationwide. June: Limited-edition scarves—designed to support the environmental film Home and the eco nonprofit GoodPlanet—feature an image of the earth’s continents morphed into the brand’s skull logo. October: “Plato’s Atlantis” marks the brand’s first live-streamed runway show, beamed via Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio.com. Lady Gaga’s single Bad Romance debuts at the sci-fi underwater spectacular; the pop singer wears the designer’s showstopping “armadillo” 12-inch heels in the music video.
· 
January: E-commerce launched in the UK. February: “I’m 40 now, but I want this to be a company that lives way beyond me,” McQueen tells Love magazine. “When I’m dead, hopefully this house will still be going. On a spaceship. Hopping up and down above earth.”[23] A week after the passing of his beloved mother, Joyce, he is found dead at his London home. The coroner will later rule it a suicide. Gucci Group announces the house will live on. March: Burton puts the finishing touches on “Angels & Demons.” April: Hamish Bowles pens a nostalgic tribute in Vogue. May: Burton named creative director. June: McQueen is posthumously honored with a CFDA Board of Directors’ Special Tribute Award. Men’s underwear and sleepwear line—one of McQueen’s final projects—launched. Pina Ferlisi named creative director of the McQ line, which Burton will oversee. July: In Vogue’s “Noble Farewell,” Bowles praises the final collection (with accompanying images by Annie Leibovitz). October: Burton makes her ready-to-wear debut to high praise. The brand acquires full control of the McQ label from licensee SINV SpA. December: The BFC awards McQueen posthumous honors for Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design.
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January: First Lady Michelle Obama wears Burton’s red-and-black ball gown to a state dinner for Chinese president Hu Jintao. It-model Lindsey Wixson named brand face. March: Visionaire dedicates issue No. 58, Spirit, to the late designer. For a McQ ad campaign, photographer Niall O’Brien takes an American road trip, posting his snaps on the brand’s interactive Tumblr site, m-c-q.com. April: Burton is revealed as the designer of Catherine Middleton’s royal wedding dress. London’s Guardian proclaims “a fist-pump moment for British fashion.” May: The glitterati come together to honor the designer at the Met Costume Institute’s annual gala, kicking off the retrospective “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.” The wildly popular show will draw mobs, a grand total of 661,509 visitors by its final midnight-hour close in August. In Vogue, Burton shares her memories of working with her mentor. July: For the magazine, Plum Sykes details the dresses and delights of the Met gala, including a blockbuster performance of “Rebel, Rebel,” by singer Florence Welch. Burton is this month’s It Girl in Vogue. Fall: First Chinese store opens in Beijing.

http://www.vogue.com/voguepedia/Alexander_McQueen_%28Brand%29
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