There are are small handful of designers who are in my mind true artists and McQueen was among them. McQueen was a designer with a deep sense of irony and an impeccable sense of tailoring. He took things to the extreme, but if you look at his clothing you will see he was an unparalleled architect. He understood structure and he understood dimension. His work confronted, disturbed and excited, but his outrageous sense of design made it tough for him to gain the mainstream acceptance it takes to build financing and licensing opportunities. It’s hard to get the Average Jane to get behind butterfly headdresses and lobster claw shoes and it’s even harder to get the corporations that own the fashion houses to get behind a designer who isn’t willing to be bland.
When someone of his talent and vision kills himself, it’s totally baffling and deeply disturbing. Why would he wake up one day and decide that it wasn’t going to get better and he wasn’t going to be able to soldier on? What drove him to choose death over life? It is impossible to know what demons haunt people, so much of who we are is hidden, perhaps even from ourselves. It is incredibly sad to think that the world has lost someone with so much left to offer.
I think that every creative personality finds it difficult to continually create from their heart and have their work analyzed under the critic’s lens. When a designer is willing to dance on the edge, like McQueen did, they are often misunderstood. Perhaps he’d grown weary of the ever shifting whims of fashion, perhaps his mother’s death sent him into a tailspin of grief from which he felt he could not recover, perhaps he’d had enough of the pressure to continually exceed expectations or perhaps he felt he had said what he needed to say and was simply ready to move on...we’ll never know.
Goodbye, Lee McQueen. I hope you've found some respite from this weary world.