The McQueen of Fashion

February 11, 2010

As news spreads of the tragic and untimely death of a true fashion genius, let’s take a look at some of the ingenuity and avant-garde vision that was and always will be Alexander McQueen.

We couldn’t help but share an abbreviated interview with McQueen from SHOWstudio to give you a peek into the designer’s brilliantly radical mind. Questions were asked of him from an amalgam of inquirers, from editors to celebrities to everyday peeps. Here is a selection of some of the more interesting bits of the Q&A sesh:

SHOWstudio: You are at the zenith of a faultless career and yet collections themes including dance marathons and carousels hint that you feel caught up in something relentless and grueling. How often do you think of stopping?
Alexander McQueen: After every collection. No, usually if it’s a good show it fires me to continue. Otherwise, if I’m not too happy with it, I might think of calling it a day. it depends on what mood I’m in.

SS: What do you consider to be the greatest motivation behind your work?
AM: Always trying to better myself. looking for that pinnacle in my life. My career highs, which I don’t think I’ve achieved yet.

SS: Do you ever have creative blocks and does your personal life ever affect the way you design?
AM: Not so much the collections, but the shows are kind of auto-biographical. I’ve had this conversation with you before, after a bad collection. I think for anyone in the arts, it has to be autobiographical since it’s so personal. You can usually tell if I’m happy or sad from my shows

SS: When you are developing each collection, what inspires your choice of silhouette?
AM: Usually the mood of the show. If the show’s oppressive and the collection is suffocating in any way, then it affects the line. If it’s lighter, then things get bigger, but usually everything’s tight

SS: Which historical era has had the greatest influence on your work?
AM: Flemish. Van Eyck, Hans Memling. Gothic. Bosch. 14th and 15th Century Flanders.

SS: What fabric has inspired you most?
AM: Animal skins. Not so PC, but there’s nothing better than nature. Nature is a fabric itself

SS: Are you interested in making beautiful clothes or fashionable ones? What is the difference? What do you see as the connection, if any, between LOOKING good and BEING good? For much of Western history attempts were made to unite beauty with goodness. Why does fashion have to change? In response to what exactly?
AM: I’ll take one of those. The only way I can answer this is that sometimes, I feel it’s my job to give people that different part of their personality – the opposite of being demure- to hide behind. When I witness people in McQueen, when they walk into a room, people want to know to know more about that person, from having selected to wear those clothes. I don’t want to sound big-headed, but it makes them appear more interesting.

SS: What items of make you cringe when you see someone wearing them?
AM: Platform shoes. It’s all about proportion and that’s not proportion

SS: What is the difference between romance and sex? How does it apply to your work?
AM: I think it’s the difference between making love and having sex. Your heart goes into it and sex is on a superficial level. Romance is where my heart is.

SS: Although homosexuality is still a contentious subject in Western society, you seem not to be scared by letting your sexuality known. Has that required bravery? Has your sexuality helped you to design your collections?
AM: I think before you get onto a public platform, you have to deal with yourself before you put yourself out there. Things like sexuality always come out, and you come off worse by not being true to yourself. I came out in i-D magazine when I was 19. I remember it like it was yesterday. Yes, I think my sexuality has helped my designs.

SS: Where is fashion heading?
AM: To the abyss.

SS: What type of industry has fashion been to you? Do you still see it in the same light as when you entered it?
AM: Fashion is like any entertainment industry. It’s fickle. I’ve always seen it in the same light: shallow.

SS: Which fashion designers or companies do you admire that don’t get the recognition they deserve?
AM: Koji Tatsuno. Margiela. Dirk Van Sanae. Too many to mention.

SS: What is your thought process when creating a piece? Does it just happen as a random thought or do you look at all of the variables first and sort out the best one?
AM: It’s precise. Everything is always finely tuned. There is no room for manouevre.

SS: Do you see your work as a process of taking in culture and reinterpreting it in your own way?
AM: Again, my work is biographical, so anything I experience, I digest and then vomit back into society.

SS Sincerity or irony?
AM: Sincerity.

SS: It is rumoured that you embroidered ‘CUNT’ into the lining of a jacket you made for Prince Charles. How are you feeling about your recent approval from the ‘British Establishment’?
AM: I didn’t embroider it, I wouldn’t waste my time! I wrote it with a biro. I accepted the CBE for my parents. I’m not a big royalist.

SS: What is your favourite film?
AM: Paris Texas. And Salo by Passolini. Any Wim Wenders is good.

SS: What is your personal definition of beauty?
Alexander McQueen: I think there is beauty in everything. What ‘normal’ people would perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it.

SS: Who do you admire admire and holds in high esteem – for their work, deeds, values or beliefs – in any walk of life?
AM: The Queen of England, because I’d hate to have her job. Anyone that can do that job must be a bit insane, so you’ve got to give it to her.

SS: Can you please tell a joke?
AM: Me.

SS: If you could go back to any period in history which period would you pick?
AM: Victorian London, Jack the Ripper time. I’d like to find him.

SS: What tips would you give people who want to make their way in the fashion business?
AM: Have a complete understanding that you’re good at it before trying. Otherwise, don’t bother because it’s not worth the pain. I wouldn’t try to be an actor.

SS: Who do you most want to surprise next?
AM: Myself.

Photos from W magazine and


One Response to “The McQueen of Fashion”

  1. […] the tearjerker for you if you’ve also been feeling the recent loss of her designer discovery, Alexander McQueen. (If you need to be brought up to to speed, here’s the gist: the two became lifelong friends […]

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