Farewell, Mr. McQueen

I have been a fashion lover since my early 20s. I can remember first discovering the fashion magazines from Europe and Japan and feeling as if I’d entered a secret magical world. I far prefer the whimsical and wild to the dull and pedantic.  I love to peruse the pics of the runway collections and see what new and inspiring directions the design houses are exploring. I know that fashion is silly and frivolous, yet as a designer I can't help but find it endlessly inspiring. So when I heard that Alexander (Lee) McQueen had committed suicide last week, I was, as were many people, utterly shocked and dismayed. Today it was confirmed that he had hanged himself in an armoire in his apartment and left a note, the contents of which have yet to be revealed.

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.



Anonymous said...

@artstate loves this blog!! RIP

Unknown said...

Nicely written!! The world has lost another amazing craftsmen! It makes me so sad when I see such talent taken away too soon!! But in this case he stood alone and your words exemplified that beautifully!! A person can only dream to have a sliver of McQueens ability, may he RIP!!

MelanieO said...

I completely agree. His work was not so outrageous as to be created just to be outrageous. It was beautiful, moving and it stood out from the rest. I think fashion needs designers like him, not everyone can be, or should be, Ralph Lauren. There needs to be room for the artist.

jafabrit said...

LOvely post Margot, so sad, I hope he has found some peace.

Jean said...

A very moving eulogy -- thanks for sharing.

TesoriTrovati said...

Truly tragic loss.
I read someplace that fashion is a lonely world. There are all sorts of hangers-on and deeply vacuous people who never really know who you are. Perhaps that is one more of the reasons why. As someone creative, who wear her heart on her sleeve (or around her neck), and who puts herself out there subject to ridicule and comparisions and misunderstandings I can relate to that part of it. But to get to a point where there is no more hope, no will to go one more step, I confess that I cannot fathom. That is why I so thoroughly cherish this supportive little blogging community that I have found. Realizing that there are other people like me out in the world and connecting to them brings such joy. It is too bad that Mr. McQueen didn't have that sort of support to fall back on.
Thank you for the words of wisdom today, Miss Madge. Enjoy the day! Erin

Unknown said...

Love your post, you said it well!
He was truly one of my favorites, and am so sad that he will not be gracing us with his beautifully tailored masterpieces anymore.
There is now a large piece of inspiration missing from my artistic soul

jafabrit said...

I don't think he lacked support Tesori, not that I see. He had a trusted circle of friends and family. It seems the death of his mother pushed him over the edge.

Fernando Dasilva said...

What a beautiful homage Madge!

In certain way we are "Mcqueenetches" on our work and aspirations. It is really nice seeing such big space dedicated to an artist like McQueen.