Last fall Alexander McQueen set fire to his past. All of the props from his previous shows--and what shows they were--sat in a black heap in the middle of a runway. They seemed to smolder, you smelled smoke even though there was none. The show that walked around that blackened pile was a phoenix. Models braved half-foot, sculpted stilettos to bring McQueen's ode to rebirth to life. The show was a revelation, a spark of genius burning bright into a blaze of new. Old patterns from past shows were flipped on their head, inverted from pants to a coat. The tailoring was a divine exercise in other worldly talent. It was McQueen showing the industry that the apocalypse of a bottomed-out economy was actually no end at all, but an opportunity for those with the guts (and the skills) to turn the game of fashion up higher. If it was all going to burn, McQueen was going to let it light the way.
Where he wound up was an apex. His Spring 2010 show was a kind of immediate perfection. He created a new species. The textiles were printed with animalistic graphics. You could see elements of butterfly wings, reptile skins, creatures.
It looked familiar but also like the future. Like viewing an evolved species. And those shoes? Those shoes! Instant icons of never-before-now. They were disturbing to look at, that is how unfamiliar and unexpected they were. That show, with its self-referential camera work, with its Gaga, with its Internet broadcast, with those shoes, was the fashion world's version of a gold medal performance. McQueen's end-of-show walk was triumphant...
...And it was his last. My heart aches that he's gone. Some may think that a bit dramatic. After all, I didn't know Alexander McQueen. But, my heart did. I've always been so confounded by my love of fashion. It's frivolous, it's vain, it's full of demoralization and waste and puts importance on utterly useless aspects of our existence. But no matter. There is something that lights up in me when I see a dress, a fabric, a phenomenal show, despite my best efforts to keep things sensible. I've embraced it as a sign that there is something divine at work, so the designers that spark my visceral, joyous reactions are pieces of heaven. McQueen has held me rapt since 1997 when he sent models down a runway in a torrent of fake rain, their bums peeking out from their lowest rise trousers. It was a rebellious, raunchy risk and made the establishment either seethe or twitch with delight. I twitched and was hooked. I fell for his theatrics, because they were always backed up with the most beautiful clothing. Molded torsos, exaggerated shoulders, strong shapes, thick fabrics, or flowing silks. Elegant or erotically twisted. Mechanical or organic. I'm rambling now...it's a stream of images in my sad head. So sad.
I'll stop here. I'm going to watch his genius before it slipped irrevocably into madness. Remember the good times. Wanna join me?
Thank you, Mr. McQueen.
Tell Isabella I say hey. Make her something ugly/pretty.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or is having thoughts of suicide, get help.