The Late Alexander McQueen In His Own Words

It’s New York Fashion Week’s opening day today, but a very, very somber one. Most of the fashion set awoke to news of designer and icon Alexander McQueen’s suicide, which took place at his London apartment yesterday. McQueen’s suicide shortly follows the death of his mother and comes three years after close friend and fashion force Isabella Blow took her own life. The loss is monumental for the industry, as McQueen was unarguably one of its preeminent talents and undoubtedly British fashion’s favorite enfant terrible. Having started his career in Savile Row at just 16, in the 24 years that followed McQueen tested the limits of what fashion means. The designer’s last collection alone, which was surely one of his best, played with mixed media and introduced the world to bold, sculptural silhouettes and sea-meets-space warrior footwear that could quite literally take your breath away.

The collection was inspired by Atlantis (which McQueen claims he wikipedia’d when looking for inspiration, and found it to represent a sort of “Neverland”). Not to mention, he was prolific as hell: the designer opened an LA flagship in 2008, embraced the digital revolution fully by tweeting (his account has been removed postmortem), he engaged in designer collaborations (from Target to Puma back in 2005) very early on, and he was one of the first contemporary high-fashion brands to introduce a diffusion line–McQ, whose scheduled presentation for FW10 today at Bryant Park has been canceled. McQueen’s final show was his namesake men’s wear FW10 presentation, seen here, which took place just last month. What will come of his upcoming Paris show, scheduled for March 9, remains to be seen.

Showstudio has a great, very in depth video interview with the designer here, which took place preceding his SS10 show. The 30-minute long interview includes a wealth of especially moving musings. Of the fashion industry today, McQueen says, “it’s a business, but I don’t think it makes sense to play safe in these times. In times like this I think the world needs fantasy, not reality. We have enough reality today.” While it’s hard to watch, in the aforementioned video McQueen also discusses his fascination with the macabre (a theme seen most recently and most vividly in McQueen’s harlequin-inspired FW09 collection). “I think it’s important to look at death if it comes under the word macabre because I think that it is part of life. I’ve always been fascinated by the Victorian period of death where they used to take pictures of the dead. It’s not about brushing it under the carpet like we do today. It’s about celebrating someone’s life. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I think it’s a very sad thing, a melancholic thing. It’s a very romantic thing because it means the end of a cycle. Everything has an end. The cycle of life is a positive thing because it gives room for new things to come.”

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