artist of the day #47: Alexander McQueen

So every once in a while I manage to put on a cool tie, or I by happenstance I put on the right combination of thrift store finds and hair gel that I actually look fashionable. But for the most part, the ideals that go with fashion elude me, and it is a world I feel mostly lost in. And to go beyond just putting on a hat that matches the shoes, is the world of fashion shows. This is something that just feels alien to me. The idea of the absurdly rich, and the impossibly skinny gathering around to look at clothes that nobody would actually wear in real life just always seemed kind of absurd to me. This might be because I always thought about clothing from first a pragmatic view. So if the clothes weren’t really intended for someone to wear in real life, what is the point?

This was a very premature point of view to have. After all, not all of Art has a very practical purpose, and fashion is a huge genre of Art. So why not look at some of it as an artwork first, and a piece of clothing second. What caused me to change my views? Perhaps it was a very powerful example of fashion as Art, some work that caused some immediate and specific emotions inside of me. I am talking about the creations of Alexander McQueen.

McQueen’s fashion shows resemble a clip of a movie or an act from a play much more closely than the average fashion show. And his creations are a bit more costume like than they are functional articles of clothing. When I see one of his pieces, it is like I am instantly seeing elements of a story. They cause me to think of a time period, a plot, and various characters in this new world. It is not just a bunch of weird dresses and hats, there are absorbable themes and ideas there.

This might be because McQueen starts each one of his shows with just that, a theme, and then designs his pieces to go with that theme. And his themes can be taken from anywhere. He is known to take many more ideas from films, music, and even TV than from any other fashion designers out there. And the shows themselves also become part of the work. He has gotten a reputation for being a little shocking, and some might say it is in bad taste. One of his shows started by reenacting a shipwreck. But like it or love it, one cannot deny that they are elaborate and attention grabbing. And with that, celebrities that like attention have often been seen wearing his creations. Bjork and Lady Gaga have even incorporated it in some of their music videos.

Sadly, the first fashion designer to really and truly grab my attention is no longer alive and creating. Often with such powerful minds, come powerful emotions. McQueen took his own like in 2010, nine days after the death of his mother. Whether or not this was the cause of his suicide is unknown, but close friends say he was unhappy for some time. His work is still celebrated and will likely have an impact on future fashion designers and artists for some time to come.


Check out a video about some of his work here: