Thursday, February 11, 2010

In Memoriam - Alexander McQueen

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the news that Alexander McQueen has died. For the 10 years that I've been reading about, learning from and witnessing fashion, Alexander McQueen was a part of the experience. Whether brutally severe, aggressively sexual, achingly romantic, or as was common for him a combination of those things, his work never failed to amaze. The way that he could harness the powers of technology, sound, makeup, theater and clothing to not only express his own emotions but also manipulate those of the audience is no doubt what he will go down in history for. He was a designer who set trends, who changed the collective eye, who challenged convention and used fashion as a means of expression. But beyond all of that, he was simply a creator of beauty.

Earlier today I was thinking about how, more often than not, McQueen would close his shows with a final cinematic moment, a powerful image that would burn itself into the memory of all who happened to see it. From a model in a dress made of blood red beads standing in a circle of fire, to Shalom Harlow rotating between two robotic arms as they spray-painted her voluminous white dress, a yellow rainstorm falling over the models as they walked the plexiglass runway, or a voluptuous naked woman in repose wearing a demonic gas mask while butterflies hovered around her. In retrospect those final images are like a reminder that beauty is ephemeral, which is all the more reason to savor it before it ultimately burns out. But none of his finales illustrates this point more poignantly than this from Fall Winter 2006.

I think's Tim Blanks said it best today when he wrote...
For everyone left behind, there will eventually be consolation, however scant right now, in a body of work whose power will never die.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reflection. That hologram is really haunting and sad in a way. Beauty is kind of a trap. to me his clothes always represented a complex introvert, a strong powerful person. With the circumstances of his death, I look back at his collections with a heavier feeling: The hologram kind of sums it up.

I truly feel sad that someone who was able to transform people and make them feel confident and fantastic couldn't feel the same. It's starting to be a pattern i'm noticing- that those who give so generously have more fragile spirits and I don't mean that in negative sense.

Spike said...

You're absolutely right. His collections really have taken on a whole new meaning, knowing how abruptly and tragically his life ended. Moments like that hologram, or the soft-focus romanticism of his F/W 08 collection, or even the asylum collection of 2001 suddenly have this emotional weight to them that wasn't apparent before.

Thanks for commenting.

inaya said...

Beautiful tribute post, dear. I agree with you so much, he has left such a void that can simply NEVER be filled. Talk of someone taking over the McQueen house is repulsing me because no *designer* can ever be like him. He was so, so much more, such a revolutionary who's talents and ability to reach into people expanded far beyond the clothes.