Alexander McQueen was born on 17 March 1969 in Lewisham, London, to a Scottish family. McQueen attended Rokeby School and left at age16 in 1985, going on to complete a tailoring course at Newham College and serve an apprenticeship with Savile Row tailors and Anderson & Sheppard, before joining Gieves & Hawkes and, later, the theatrical costumiers Angels and Berman. While serving his apprenticeship, McQueen attended the Rosetta Art Centre led by Yvonne Humble, who also wrote his reference that saw him go straight on to an MA course at Central St Martins. The skills he learned as an apprentice on Savile Row helped earn him a reputation in the fashion world as an expert in creating an impeccably tailored look.
McQueen returned to London and applied to Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, to work as a pattern cutter tutor. Because of the strength of his portfolio he was persuaded by Bobby Hillson, the Head of the Masters course, to enroll in the course as a student. He received his master’s degree in fashion design and his 1992 graduation collection was bought in its entirety by influential fashion stylist Isabella Blow. Isabella Blow paved the way for Alexander McQueen using her unique style and contacts to help him she was in many ways his mantor. It was shortly after creating his second collection,”McQueen’s Theatre of Cruelty”, that McQueen met Katy England, his soon to be “right hand woman”. He promptly asked her to join him for his third collection, “The Birds” at Kings Cross, as “creative director”.Katy England continued to work with McQueen thereafter, greatly influencing his work – his “second opinion”.
McQueen’s early runway collections developed his reputation for controversy and shock tactics with trousers aptly named “bumsters”. McQueen was known for his lavish, unconventional runway shows:McQueen has been credited with bringing drama and extravagance to the catwalk.He used new technology and innovation to add a different twist to his shows and often shocked and surprised audiences. The silhouettes that he created have been credited for adding a sense of fantasy and rebellion to fashion. McQueen became one of the first designers to use Indian models in London.
His first couture collection with Givenchy was unsuccessful, with even McQueen telling Vogue in October 1997 that the collection was “crap”. McQueen toned down his designs at Givenchy, but continued to indulge his rebellious streak, causing controversy in autumn 1998 with a show which included double amputee model Aimee Mullins striding down the catwalk on intricately carved wooden legs.
By the end of 2007, Alexander McQueen had boutiques in London, New York, Los Angeles, Milan, and Las Vegas. Celebrity patrons, including Nicole Kidman, Penélope Cruz, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Rihanna, Monica Brown have frequently been spotted wearing Alexander McQueen clothing to events.
Some of McQueen’s accomplishments included being one of the youngest designers to achieve the title “British Designer of the Year”, which he won four times between 1996 and 2003.
McQueen committed suicidein 2010, at the age of forty, at his home in Mayfair, London.