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The Mark of McQueen

Courtney Cox | Thursday, February 18, 2010

The fashion world mourned on Friday as the death of Lee Alexander McQueen cast a pall on the commencement of New York Fashion Week. At age 40, the designer committed suicide after having been troubled by the loss of his mother. McQueen’s legacy lives on in the brilliant and groundbreaking work that he had given the fashion world. He began working in London’s famed Savile Row as an intern and then transitioned into costume design. He then pursued his master’s degree in design and began his individual collection.  
    McQueen was a designer well known for his dramatic shows and garments. It’s no wonder then that the he is a favorite of Lady Gaga. For majority of the public, the only thing even recognizable as a work of McQueen’s is his designs featured in Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” video. The video opens on Gaga and a posse of some number of Russian brides and mafia members. She is seated in the center in a glimmering gold dress from McQueen’s Spring 2010 collection. Some may also recall the moment when Gaga is slowly walking across a stark white room in an elaborately sequined garment and shoes that are impossibly high. This entire ensemble is straight off the Spring 2010 runway as well. Shoes seem to be the one area in which designers completely throw away any sense of wearability, and yet McQueen’s designs were an integral part of the music video itself.
    McQueen ventured into the commercial realm in 2005 with his line for Puma.  The collections for Puma are a much more toned down version of McQueen than what is usually seen on the runway. Let’s face it: a gym shoe with a nine-inch heel simply wouldn’t sell. The collection features athletic shoes for men and some for women as well.  The women’s shoes are not particularly appealing and would generally not be distinguished from the men’s at first glance, but the real draw to the collection is the select items of clothing. Most of the clothing is meant for working out, but the men’s bomber jacket offers a fantastic alternative to the worn out hoodie most men find appealing.  
    Puma and Lady Gaga may be fans of McQueen, but his real mark on fashion was made in his groundbreaking collections. His most recent collection, Spring 2010, took the global trend to an entirely new level. He created beautifully crafted garments with some of the most intricately designed fabric patterns. The fabrics looked as though they were the skin of some creature that has not been discovered yet. The patterns had elements of snakeskin and yet some had shoulder pads that more closely resembled armor. Each model was transformed into something not quite human by the hair and makeup choices.  Their hair was piled atop their heads in alien-like spikes with braids along the side of the head and their makeup emphasized the cheekbones and diminished the eyebrows yet again creating the illusion of an alien creature. The shoes were incredibly powerful. They added a good foot to the already Amazonian models and simply added to the otherworldly effects of the show. The show was a look forward to the future in an unbelievably creative manner.
    The lingering question following his death is what will come of his Fall 2010 collection. The men’s collection was shown in Milan in late January, but the women’s collection was not. It was reportedly close to being finished upon his death, but whether it will debut in New York remains to be seen.
    His work simply cannot be summed up in one article. His creations were groundbreaking and extremely powerful. He was a versatile designer with acclaimed collections in both men’s and women’s wear and his design aesthetic was both outrageous and beautiful. He emphasized the juxtaposition of power and beauty in his clothing, and left a huge mark on the fashion industry. He will surely be missed and will be remembered for years because of his amazing work.