A couple days ago I woke up to discover on Twitter (yep, it’s official, the way we get news has changed) that Alexander McQueen had committed suicide. Alexander McQueen was a creative genius and an extraordinary fashion & costume designer. I’ve admired his work for as long as I can remember.
Oddly enough, due to my current contract working on The Blue Dragon, I am now a mere two steps away from Mr. McQueen in the game of Six Degrees of Separation. Robert Lepage, Canadian icon, who is the currently performing in his creation The Blue Dragon at SFU Woodwards collaborated with Alexander McQueen, who designed the costumes, on his creation Eonnagata.
I love fashion. I have always been a bit of a clothes horse. When I was sixteen I went to London for the first time and I came home with a shiny white pvc mini-dress and a see-through plastic jacket. No joke. AND, I wore it to school. Again, No Joke. Thinking back on it I’m surprised my parents let me walk out of the house like that. My friends like to joke that I wore suits to school. That may be going a little too far. I didn’t wear suits although I definitely wore “outfits”. I’ll fully admit to that. Think Cher in Clueless. I actually had one of the pens with purple fluff coming out of the top.
I think you are starting to get the picture so even though I became a costume designer, sort-of by accident, it is no surprise, that’s for sure.
When I got to University and started to study costume design it was inevitable that I would also study fashion because costume and fashion are interlinked. When you study costume design you study the trends and clothes of the time. Fashion designers are a big part of this. One of the first major designers – whose name everyone still knows today – is Chanel. But did you know that the first designer – where fashion design is thought to have begun – is actually a man named Charles Worth? Much like today, Mr. Worth worth dressed the stars and celebutantes of the day only then it was France in the 19th century and his loyal young starlet was Empress Eugenie of the French Court. Mr. Worth is considered to be the first couturier and while we study all articles of clothing from any time period in costume design only clothing created after 1858 can also be considered fashion design.
So, I’ve not only been a fashion lover but I have studied practically every designer there has been since Charles Worth opened his first couturier in 1858. I buy Vogue religiously and when I am designing for a show I inevitably look to the fashions of the time. So it makes me very sad that we will no longer see the work of Alexander McQueen strut down the runway or on the London stage; however, there is one thing we can be sure of and that is that his legacy will live on. The same way we study Chanel for the way she revolutionized fashion by introducing the women’s sportswear look with the use of Jersey fabric so too will Alexander McQueen be studied for his 1995 Highland Rape Collection inspired by his Scottish ancestry.
He made it fashionable (not just grunge cool) to wear Tartan again. Just two days ago, and one day after his death, there was a fiddling number during the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics where all the artists and dancers looked like they had stepped off the 1995 Alexander McQueen Highland runway show. Already his impact on the world is evident. And, years from now when a playwright pens a play set in 1995 in Britain the costume designer will do his or her research and be inspired by his work.
May he rest in peace: Alexander McQueen 1969 -2010.
Admiring Fan and Fashion Lover