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Few years have passed since Lee Alexander McQueen left us and it’s not an overstatement saying that fashion found itself ‘orphan’ from one of its greatest creators, maybe the best from recent decades. The son of a London taxi-driver, who was born in a working class family, learned early how to sew, refined his skills working with Savile Row tailors, completed his degree at the prestigious Central Saint Martins and soon became the darling of stylist Isabella Blow and other big names within the industry. He was a symbol of a dying species: the artist who makes fashion.
How can you not be moved by his collections? How can you not admire his courage to rebel against the commonplace and commercial predictability that became standard on the runways? His troubled period at Givenchy and conflicts with LVMH executives were proof that he would just fit into the lucrative dynamics of a conglomerate if he could maintain full creative independence. Kering took the hint and bought the idea. Today there is no doubt that it was one of the best investments the group have made.
Alexander McQueen is clearly the Creator archetype. His greatest desire was to express art through his clothes, and by doing it made us reflect on culture and contemporary society. Each show was the result of an intense creative process and complex storytelling that could bring together the most diverse elements: witches, magical creatures, Egyptian queens, Atlantis, primitive beings, chess sets, skulls, wolves… The more he innovated, more the audience was impressed and thrilled. McQueen was able to go through all levels of the Creator: daydreams and fantasies motivated him to create amazing pieces, give forms to particular views and influence our desires. It’s sad that he also embraced the ‘dark side’ of the archetype and fell into the perfectionism trap.
“People do not want to see clothes, they want something that feeds the imagination,” he said after the presentation of the Autumn/Winter 2009. The quote summarizes everything about the brand and keeps being Sarah’s Burton mantra. Since succeeding the master, even with more romantic and less controversial creations, she had kept the brand identity unshakeable, combining creativity, technique and emotion. Three adjectives that have become rare in the current state of fashion.