Alexander McQueen: Truly Unique
Alexander McQueen was one of the great British designers of modern times. While his designs were universally considered to be brilliant, he was also known for the power and raw emotion of his fashion shows. He drew attention to his work with shock tactics, and kept attention with his beautiful and breathtaking work. After his passing in 2010, his assistant Sarah Burton took up his work to continue presenting Alexander McQueen’s unique vision to the world.
Driven by Passion
Lee Alexander McQueen was someone who always seemed to know what he wanted, even when he was still a little child. He was the son of a taxi driver, born in London in 1969. While still very young, he helped his three sisters with their fashions and knew then and there he wanted to be one of the best designers in the world. His parents objected, wanting him to find a more ‘normal’ line of work.
Young Alexander was focused on his goal, however. He left school when he was only 16 to apprentice himself to Anderson and Shepherd, the famous Savile Row tailors. From there, he branched out to working with theatrical costumers. Even while he was still a young man working on Savile Row, his talents were recognized. Big names like Prince Charles and Mikhail Gorbachev patronized him.
At the age of 20, Alexander decided to return to school, applying to the biggest of London’s fashion schools, Central St. Martin’s College of Art & Design, in an attempt to get a Masters Degree. There was no formal education on his resume, which would normally bar admission. McQueen managed to get admitted merely by showing his impressive portfolio to the director. He graduated in 1991.
Even before he opened his own London studio in 1992, McQueen was well known for his controversial marketing techniques. The public was shocked – and they wanted more. McQueen was happy to provide more, and received a number of rewards for his efforts, even becoming the youngest designer to be named British Designer of the Year. By the turn of the 21st Century, it was time for him to release his own unique fragrances.
Alexander McQueen Fragrances
The first perfume was simply called ‘Kingdom’ and released in 2004. It was the first edition of line of Kingdom fragrances, but the first iteration is still available today. Like McQueen’s fashion offerings, Kingdom is a bit spicy and wholly unique, mixing citrus scents with flowery notes of carnation and rose. There is the sharpness of ginger, and a green touch of celery seed. Altogether it makes a blend that should be shocking in its own right, but instead blends into a lovely and appealing whole.
My Queen was released in 2005. This is a softer and smoother experience than the original Kingdom. Where most perfumes have top, middle, and base notes, My Queen blends four levels into one mysterious and seductive experience. It opens with the scents of almonds and violets, which sharpens into tangy-sweet white musk, orange, white flowers, and heliotrope. The next phrase brings out touches of cedar, patchouli, and vetiver, and it ends with vanilla and iris.
For My Queen, even the bottle is a work of art. As someone who collected glass art, Alexander McQueen made sure his perfume bottles were as beautiful to see and touch as his perfume was to smell. The gracefully curved bottle was specifically made not only to be lovely to see, but to fit comfortably in the hand of a woman.
The Continuing Legacy of Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen passed on in February of 2010. At that time, his boutiques were opened worldwide, from his home of London to Los Angeles, and from Las Vegas to Milan. J-pop stars were wearing Alexander McQueen wear and perfumes to events, and celebrities like Penelope Cruz, Rihanna, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Nicole Kidman all patronize his stores. Lady Gaga has even used Alexander McQueen fashions in her videos.
When Alexander McQueen created something new, there was always no doubt it was going to be something truly new, something unique and innovative, like nothing seen before in the fashion world. He knew how to make something timelessly romantic, yet contemporary. Where many designers chose to show stark and emotionless art, McQueen was openly emotional, showing it was possible to juxtapose strength and fragility. His singular vision will truly be missed, but the power of his work is timeless.