Alexander McQueen CBE
(born Lee Alexander McQueen
, 17 March 1969
) is an English fashion designer
Born in the East End of London
, the son of a taxi driver
, McQueen started making dresses for his three sisters at a young age and announced his intention of becoming a fashion designer.
McQueen left Rokeby School
at 16, landing himself an apprenticeship with Savile Row
tailors Anderson & Sheppard
, then working for Gieves & Hawkes
and the famous theatrical costumiers Angels and Bermans
. Whilst on Savile Row, McQueen's clients included Mikhail Gorbachev
and Charles, Prince of Wales
. At the age of 20, he spent a period of time working for Koji Tatsuno
before traveling to Milan
, Italy and working for Romeo Gigli.
McQueen returned to London in 1994 and applied to London's most prestigious fashion school, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design to work as a pattern cutter tutor. Due to the strength of his portfolio he was persuaded by the Head of the Masters course to enroll on the course as a student. He received his Masters degree in Fashion design and famously, his graduation collection was bought in its entirety by influential fashion stylist Isabella Blow, who was said to have persuaded McQueen to change his name from Lee to Alexander (his middle name) when he subsequently launched his fashion career.
Alexander McQueen's early runway collections developed his reputation for controversy and shock tactics (earning the title "enfant terrible
" and "the hooligan of English fashion"), with trousers
aptly named "bumsters", and a collection entitled "Highland Rape". It has also been claimed that he was on income support
and that he needed to change his name for his first show so that he could continue to receive benefits.
The president of LVMH
, Bernard Arnault
caused a stir when he instated McQueen as head designer at Givenchy
in 1996, succeeding John Galliano
. Upon arrival at Givenchy, McQueen had the nerve to insult the founder by calling him ‘irrelevant’. Thus, his first couture collection with Givenchy was unsatisfactory, with even McQueen telling Vogue in October 1997 that the collection was “crap”. McQueen toned down his act at Givenchy, but continued to indulge his rebellious streak, causing controversy in Autumn 1998 with a show which included car-robots spraying paint over white cotton dresses, and double amputee model Aimee Mullins
striding down the catwalk on intricately carved wooden legs. McQueen stayed with Givenchy until March 2001, when the contract he said was "constraining his creativity" was ended.
Some of Alexander McQueen's accomplishments include being one of the youngest designers to achieve the title "British Designer of the Year
", which he won four times between 1996 and 2003. He has also been awarded the CBE, as well as being named International Designer of the Year at the Council of Fashion Designer Awards. December 2000 saw a new partnership for McQueen with Gucci
Group acquiring 51% of the company, and McQueen serving as Creative Director. Plans for expansion have included the opening of stores in London, Milan, and New York, and the launch of his perfumes Kingdom, and more recently My Queen. In 2005, McQueen collaborated with Puma
to create a special line of sneakers for the shoe brand.
McQueen became the first designer to participate in MAC's newest promotion: cosmetic releases created by fashion designers. The collection, McQueen, was released on October 11, 2007 and reflects the looks used on the Fall/Winter McQueen runway. The inspiration for the collection was the Elizabeth Taylor movie Cleopatra, and thus the models sported intense blue, green, and teal eyes with strong black liner extended Egyptian-style. McQueen handpicked the 3 cream shadows, coordinating eye shadows, two lip sticks, two lipglasses, three eyeliners, false lashes and Mineralized Skin Finish powder used in the collection
Alexander McQueen by the end of 2007 had boutiques in New York, London, Los Angeles, Milan, and Las Vegas. Japanese pop superstar Ayumi Hamasaki
is one of the many celebrities that often wears Alexander McQueen, often seen in her "making of" videos and back-stage clips. As of July 14, 2008, the Alexander McQueen internet store has launched on the company website, allowing shoppers to purchase ready-to-wear and accessories online.