What we now know to be Alexander McQueen’s final collection in Paris last October was a nod to modernity: prints were computer-generated, silhouettes experimental, the show itself live-streamed to reach as broad an audience as possible. McQueen was, by all accounts, looking to the future. Last year’s Target collaboration, coupled with new celebrity alliances, suggested a new openness and optimism. Word of McQueen’s suicide today made these developments all the more shocking.
McQueen reveled in the role of provocateur, marrying mind-boggling imagination with epic technical prowess. And, unlike many designers, he didn’t give that much of a damn whether you liked it or not. Critics typically did, however—and customers too.
McQueen followed up a Savile Row apprenticeship with a degree from Central Saint Martins, later working at Givenchy prior to the creation of his namesake label. And though there was little doubt McQueen knew precisely what he was doing, he nevertheless garnered flack for his dark, sometimes violent sensibilities. Perhaps the more disquieting of his collections were reflections of a brilliant and bold, yet ultimately troubled, psyche.
In the weeks leading up to his death, McQueen suffered the loss of his mother, a font of inspiration and encouragement. By all accounts he was still reeling from the passing of his friend and mentor, Isabella Blow, three years ago. We can only hope he has finally found the peace he so desperately sought. Those seeking solace may find it, albeit meager, in a body of work whose beauty and power live on.