It was unknown for months. Critics and fashion gurus from all parts of the world tried to take their best guess at which designer would honored with having their dress walk down Westminster Abby. On April 29th, the pièce de résistance was proven to be an Alexander McQueen, designed by Sara Burton.
Alexander McQueen was born in London in 1969. He was not raised in a posh environment but instead grew up in council flats, a form of public housing. The youngest of six, Alexander, or Lee as he was also known seeing as Alexander was his middle name, found his passion as he made dresses for his sisters. Choosing not to move onto higher education, Alexander finished his schooling at age 16 with simply one O-level (ordinary level) in art. He managed to get an apprenticeship with tailors, Anderson & Sheppard, along the famous Savile Row in Mayfair, London. After gaining knowledge and experience tailoring London’s finest (even Prince Charles), McQueen traveled to other parts of the world such as Italy and Milan continuing to work for other designers.
In 1994, he decided to return to London and continue his education, enrolling in and earning his master’s degree in fashion merchandising at the world famous Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Instantly recognized and wanted for his creative works, Alexander was best known for controversy within his collections and shows put on such as his 2006 show entitled, “Widows of Culloden.” McQueen paired with Gucci in 2000, where he became Creative Director and by 2007, Alexander had numerous boutiques all around the world along with a long list of adoring celebrities. Alexander McQueen has brought things such as skull and crossbones into vogue, made ultra low-rise jeans fashionable, and created a catwalk so different than any other with his brilliant flare for drama and extravagance. It is no wonder why he was one of the youngest fashion designers ever to receive the title, “British Designer of the Year,” award and go onto to win it another 3 times.
Immensely close with his mother, McQueen suffered from great depression with her death in the beginning of February 2010. After losing such a large part of his life, sadly, Alexander McQueen committed suicide just a short time after, that February. He left behind his unfinished collection for autumn/winter 2010 which various fashion editors helped complete.
Gucci later announced that the Alexander McQueen brand would continue and entered Sarah Burton! Taking over the title of Creative Director, Sarah was Alexander’s assistant previously. Having worked alongside Alexander for more than 14 years, it was promising that she would be able to keep the core values of the company shining. She presented her first womenswear collection, all of which she created herself, for Alexander McQueen in Paris in 2010. Sarah also studied at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. After obtaining and internship with Alexander McQueen through a friend, she was hired on full time as his personal assistant. In 2000, she was named the head of the womenswear department. During her time with Alexander McQueen she has created dresses for such icons such as First Lady Michelle Obama to Lady Gaga to the most recent and recognizable Duchess of Cambridge. Through working with Alexander, Sarah has been able to study one of the greatest and innovative fashion designers of all time. She will, undoubtedly, go on to lead a promising career through her own gifted talents and continue to bring forth some of McQueen’s visions as well her own.
In my opinion, the dress Kate Middleton chose to wear while marrying Prince William could not have been anything but an Alexander McQueen. It shows country pride, fashion extravagance, and pays tribute to an ingenious designer to whom the world unfortunately lost just over a year ago.
Additional images showing the brilliance of Lee Alexander McQueen before 2010.