Alexander McQueen - Biography
Alexander McQueen CBE (born Lee Alexander McQueen, 17 March 1969) is an English fashion designer.
Born in the East End of London, the son of a taxi driver, McQueen started making dresses for his three sisters at a young age and announced his intention of becoming a fashion designer.
McQueen left school at 16, landing himself an apprenticeship with Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard, then working for Gieves & Hawkes and the famous theatrical costumiers Angels and Bermans. Whilst on Savile Row, McQueen's clients included Mikhail Gorbachev and Charles, Prince of Wales. At the age of 20, he spent a period of time working for Koji Tatsuno before traveling to Milan, Italy and working for Romeo Gigli. McQueen returned to London in 1994 and applied to London's most prestigious fashion school, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design to work as a pattern cutter tutor. Due to the strength of his portfolio he was persuaded by the Head of the Masters course to enroll on the course as a student. He received his Masters degree in Fashion design and famously, his graduation collection was bought in its entirety by influential fashion stylist Isabella Blow, who was said to have persuaded McQueen to change his name from Lee to Alexander (his middle name) when he subsequently launched his fashion career.
McQueen's early runway collections developed his reputation for controversy and shock tactics (earning the title "enfant terrible" and "the hooligan of English fashion"), with trousers aptly named "bumsters", and a collection entitled "Highland Rape". It has also been claimed that he was on income support and that he needed to change his name for his first show so that he could continue to receive benefits.
The president of LVMH, Bernard Arnault caused a stir when he instated McQueen as head designer at Givenchy in 1996, succeeding John Galliano. Upon arrival at Givenchy, McQueen had the nerve to insult the founder by calling him â€�irrelevantâ€™. Thus, his first couture collection with Givenchy was unsatisfactory, with even McQueen telling Vogue in October 1997 that the collection was â€ścrapâ€ť. McQueen toned down his act at Givenchy, but continued to indulge his rebellious streak, causing controversy in Autumn 1998 with a show which included car-robots spraying paint over white cotton dresses, and double amputee model Aimee Mullins striding down the catwalk on intricately carved wooden legs. McQueen stayed with Givenchy until March 2001, when the contract he said was "constraining his creativity" was ended.
Some of Alexander McQueen's accomplishments include being one of the youngest designers to achieve the title "British Designer of the Year", which he won three times between 1996 and 2003. He has also been awarded the CBE, as well as being named International Designer of the Year at the Council of Fashion Designer Awards. December 2000 saw a new partnership for McQueen with Gucci Group acquiring 51% of the company, and McQueen serving as Creative Director. Plans for expansion have included the opening of stores in London, Milan, and New York, and the launch of his perfumes Kingdom, and more recently My Queen. In 2005, McQueen collaborated with Puma to create a special line of sneakers for the shoe brand.
In the summer of 2000, McQueen married his twenty-four-year-old lover George Forsyth, a documentary filmmaker. The ceremony, which took place in Ibiza on a yacht owned by a friend of supermodel Kate Moss (who was also bridesmaid), was covered by the press in much the same way as any other celebrity wedding.
Alexander McQueen by the end of 2006 had boutiques in London, Paris, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Milan, Rome, Nice, Cannes, Manchester (UK), Athens, Moscow, Tokyo, Osaka, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Jakarta, Bangkok, and Taipei.