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Posts Tagged ‘Alexander McQueen’

There’s not much more to say about Alexander McQueen’s recent passing. It seems almost paradoxical that someone so magnanimous, so visionary could leave this world so suddenly. After all, he had an unparalleled gift, one that even in my wildest dreams I couldn’t imagine I’d ever be able to emulate. I will not begin to pontificate on why he did what he did (in fact, it makes me uncomfortable when others theorize about possible reasons; no one knows how he felt except for him; no one ever knows). I am thankful, though, to have experienced the world through his eyes. I desperately long for the many more years of talent he could have given us, but that talent was his to give, not mine to take.

The worlds he created on the runway were heart-stopping and thrilling in every single possible way; there’s this sort of good ache when you watch the shows. The beauty, the ugliness the possibility of art and all that it entails. McQueen breathed life into an industry that prided itself on an often staid aesthetic and an old boys/girls club insularity. His clothes transcended fashion. They were theater, art, life. They disturbed, entertained and inspired in equal measure. He could just as easily create lush and frilly off-the-shoulder dresses as he could amazing amphibian textured body suits. Still, he was, first and foremost, a human being, and his life didn’t belong to anyone but him. Fashion, like literature, like politics, like everything that isn’t one’s mental state, is just not that important in the scheme of things. We’re lucky to have enjoyed the fruits of his creativity for as long as we have. More than anything, I hope he’s found peace.

One of his most moving runway presentations, based on the super-depressing 60s-era movie “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”. The hauntingly tragic beauty of the models, in those gorgeous floral dresses, dancing as though on their last bit of strength. (The movie is about an inhumane, gruelingly long Great Depression-era dance marathon. The contestants nearly kill themselves in order to be the last ones left standing, all for a cash prize, while spectators look on. Those involved were the most desperate of the era.)

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People who take fashion seriously bore me to tears. The question mark-shaped models (stand up straight! for reals!), the frowny editors wearing head-to-toe designer (please be more creative, especially in this economy) trying fruitlessly to balance on their Louboutins, the rushed flacks who all seem to be losing their minds at the exact moment you catch a glimpse of their frantic faces. The scene, the whole thing is just so…tired. That’s why I’ve always been a fan of Alexander McQueen–the merry man of fashion. I used to stay up late when I was in my teens to watch his runway shows premiere on VideoFashion. Each season, he combined expertly tailored clothes with a show of unapologetically perverse storytelling and unencumbered wit. It was theater at its very finest. I still remember a Fall 2002 show replete with ghost-faced models leading wolves (or wolf-like dogs) through an open air, hauntingly lit, Victorian castle. The clothes fit the setting, yes, but these weren’t antique replicas–this was futuristic Goth with a splash of S &M (harnesses, breast plates, etc.). It was disturbing (in a fun creepy doll collection sort of way), but intensely elegant.

The Fall 2009 show conceived by McQueen was similarly filled with astonishing layers. The clothes themselves were gorgeously cut, as always, but they also incorporated a comedic element, in that the pieces and prints mocked the revelatory fashion inventions of the 20th century–Dior’s houndstooth separates, Chanel’s tweed, his own intense reds and burnt oranges and Hitchkockian Bird prints. Everything was exaggerated as though the clothes themselves were stage actors coated with a harsh layer of makeup meant to heighten the sweep of each feature. This was fashion’s last stand, if you will. The Brazil (the futuristic film, not the country)-inspired faces with their enormous rouged lips and non-existent brows depicted an after-the-rubble scenario: these clothes are fashion’s legacy; in the end, they’re utterly meaningless and might be worn by survivors with hubcap hats. At least, that’s my interpretation. Or, maybe McQueen was just having fun and the setting and accessories were done with no covert meaning and just entertainment in mind. Either way, fashion isn’t life, it’s just candy for the eyes and McQueen’s a master candy maker. (And no, the collection doesn’t remind me of Zoolander, silly fashion journalists.)

Re-assembled Dior worn with a hat made of what looks like medical gauze wrapped around aluminum cans! photo: style.com

Re-assembled Dior worn with a hat made of what looks like medical gauze wrapped around aluminum cans! photo: style.com

Those haunting faces under a hubcap hat; photo: style.com

Those haunting faces under a hubcap hat; photo: style.com

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