Alexander McQueen always existed to me as a distant, mercurial, fiercely artistic and utterly fabulous idea. And ideal. The label was what fashion should and could be. The man himself was just the genius behind the name. But oh what a genius and oh what a name! His was one of the first collections I learned to anticipate and delivered for me such emotions of which I had never known fashion to be capable.
One of my fondest memories of New York and of fashion, because to me they are inextricably linked, was the Anglomania exhibit at the Met almost four years ago. When it finally opened it, I eagerly went through it three separate times in one day and a fourth before it closed. I had always regarded fashion as art, but to see the detail, the history and moreover, the love, that went into the creations, my feelings were more than vindicated. McQueen was featured heavily, particularly a few dresses from his Spring 2005 collection (you know the one with the chessboard) and I marveled at their construction and their beauty. I left the Met enraptured and got subsequently wasted out of my mind later that night.
His apparent suicide took me completely off guard, as I'm sure it did with most of the world. So much so that I refused to believe it. When I realized it was not a rumor in poor taste, an incredible wave of sadness swept over me. I would never be able to see one of HIS shows, one that he had orchestrated and labored over, in person. Ever. I had never even been able to afford McQueen, let alone know him and now another door was closed to me that could never be opened. He was one of my heroes, one of my idols and if I didn't know him, I knew his work and that had touched me profoundly. He was my Lennon, my Cobain, hell, he was my Versace.
I spent the majority of yesterday looking through his past collections. My sadness was alleviated by the familiarity of shows that had refined my sense of fashion, my sense of art and beauty, as well as performance and spectacle. And I saw shows that I had never before seen. Shalom Harlow being assaulted by mechanical painters -- AMAZING! His is a legacy that will obviously live on, and though I will never be able to see the beauty of his work traipsing ten feet in front of me on an emaciated fifteen year old, the work will always be there. And that alone is a comfort.
Alas, if fashion is life, then life must indeed go on.
R.I.P. Lee Alexander McQueen. We hardly knew ye.