Friday, February 12, 2010


I was strongly moved by the news of Alexander McQueen's death, and spent yesterday evening watching his shows and reading tributes. My boyfriend was surprised at how affected I was, saying, "I'm confused, you've never mentioned this man to me before." It's true, I hadn't. I hadn't paid very close attention to McQueen's work in the past few years, but when I was a teenager and in my early 20s, McQueen's runway shows, and the imagery he helped create, moved me deeply, in a way no other designer's did. I was always excited to see what he'd do next...and always touched by the mixture of sheepishness and good humor that seemed to flicker across his face when he took his bow at the end of his shows.

 The cover of Bjork's Homogenic album
More info about this album cover here

I listened to Homogenic last night. The first two tracks, Hunter and Joga, seem made for McQueen, or vice-versa. Something primal, something highly crafted, something incredibly elaborate spun together with urgent, chanted declarations. Digitally created beats overlaid with lush, romantic strings. Bjork's voice like the breaking of glass. 

Here, Bjork performs Bachelorette while wearing McQueen:

His more recent shows I'd only seen pictures of, and so I caught up by watching lots of videos. I was blown away by the craftsmanship, the vision, everything. In certain seasons, almost every runway look, to me, is a work of genius. I can't imagine even sketching an entire collection of ideas this strong, much less producing them.

When I watched this video of the Spring/Summer 2004 show I actually wept, really wept. What is so beautiful about a woman wearing a gown, struggling to dance? (Just ignore the first three seconds of this video, and then watch Karen Elson stumble and bend.)

I don't know why presentations like this moved me so much, but they did. I suppose it would be like having to explain why Tim Burton's or David Lynch's work moves you. Why are you drawn to the dark or gothic? Why are you attracted to an artist's re-working of funereal themes? I can't give an answer for that.

Images from some of McQueen's other shows reminded me of Burton, for a brief moment:
chess set from spring/summer 2005


gown and antlers from fall/winter 2006/2007

And though he could clearly create the most gorgeous, elaborate gowns, when his designs were re-worked as dresses they seemed really wearable for everyday life. I've been saving this picture of Kate Moss wearing one of his mid-90s dresses for about 14 years. 
I still love this dress. 
From my scrapbook here.

A brief McQueen tribute from Tim Blanks

~ Rest in Peace ~

1 comment:

  1. I feel like I had exactly the same reaction the other day. I was really moved by his passing but I could really place why, because I had never talked about him before, thought I always admired his work.