Alexander McQueen at his Fall 2009 collection
|Born||Lee Alexander McQueen
17 March 1969
Lewisham, London, UK
|Died||11 February 2010 (aged 40)
Mayfair, London, UK
|Education||Central Saint Martins|
|Labels||Alexander McQueen, McQ|
|Awards||British Fashion Designer of the Year
Commander of the Order of the British Empire Council of Fashion Designers of America International Desiger of the Year 2003
Joyce McQueen (deceased)
Lee Alexander McQueen, CBE (17 March 1969 – 11 February 2010) was a British fashion designer known for his unconventional designs and shock tactics. McQueen worked as the head designer at Givenchy for five years before founding the Alexander McQueen and McQ labels. McQueen's dramatic designs, worn by celebrities including Björk, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, met with critical acclaim and earned him the British Designer of the Year award four times.
Born on 17 March 1969 in Lewisham, London, to Scottish taxi driver Ronald and social science teacher Joyce, McQueen was the youngest of six children. He grew up in a council flat in a tower block in Stratford. He started making dresses for his three sisters at a young age and announced his intention to become a fashion designer.
McQueen attended Rokeby School and left aged 16 in 1985 with one O-level in art, going on to serve an apprenticeship with Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard, before joining Gieves & Hawkes and, later, the theatrical costumiers Angels and Bermans. The skills he learnt as an apprentice on Savile Row helped earn him a reputation in the fashion world as an expert in creating an impeccably tailored look. 
While on Savile Row, McQueen's clients included Mikhail Gorbachev and Prince Charles; McQueen recounted in an interview that he once sewed 'I am a cunt' into the lining of a jacket he was working on for Prince Charles. At the age of 20, he spent a period of time working for Koji Tatsuno before travelling to Milan, Italy and working for Romeo Gigli.
McQueen returned to London in 1994 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 the Head of the Masters course to enroll in the course as a student. He received his masters degree in fashion design and his graduation collection was bought in its entirety by influential fashion stylist Isabella Blow, who was said to have persuaded McQueen to become known as Alexander (his middle name) when he subsequently launched his fashion career.
McQueen's early runway collections developed his reputation for controversy and shock tactics (earning the title "l'enfant terrible" and "the hooligan of English fashion"), with trousers aptly named "bumsters" and a collection entitled "Highland Rape". McQueen was known for his lavish, unconventional, runway shows, such as a recreation of a shipwreck for his spring 2003 collection, spring 2005's human chess game and his fall 2006 show, "Widows of Culloden", which featured a life-sized hologram of supermodel Kate Moss dressed in yards of rippling fabric.
McQueen's "bumsters" spawned a trend in low rise jeans; on their debut they attracted many comments and debate. Michael Oliveira-Salac, the director of Blow PR and a friend of McQueen's said that "The bumster for me is what defined McQueen." McQueen also became known for using skulls in his designs. A scarf bearing the motif became a celebrity must have and was copied around the world.
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.
The president of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, caused a stir when he appointed McQueen head designer at Givenchy in 1996, succeeding John Galliano. Upon arrival at Givenchy, McQueen insulted the founder by calling him "irrelevant". 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 car-robots spraying paint over white cotton dresses and double amputee model Aimee Mullins striding down the catwalk on intricately carved wooden legs. McQueen stayed with Givenchy until March 2001, when the contract he said was "constraining his creativity" ended.
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. He was also awarded the CBE and named International Designer of the Year Council of Fashion Designers of America International Desiger of the Year 2003  December 2000 saw a new partnership for McQueen, with the Gucci Group acquiring 51% of his company and McQueen serving as Creative Director. Plans for expansion included the opening of stores in London, Milan and New York, and the launch of his perfumes Kingdom and, most recently, My Queen. In 2005 McQueen collaborated with Puma to create a special line of trainers for the shoe brand.. In 2006 he launched McQ, a younger, more renegade lower priced line for men and women.
McQueen became the first designer to participate in MAC's promotion of cosmetic releases created by fashion designers. The collection, McQueen, was released on 11 October 2007 and reflected the looks used on the Autumn/Winter McQueen catwalk. The inspiration for the collection was the Elizabeth Taylor movie Cleopatra, and thus the models sported intense blue, green, and teal eyes with strong black liner extended Egyptian-style. McQueen handpicked the makeup.
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, have frequently been spotted wearing Alexander McQueen clothing to events. Bjork and Lady Gaga have often incorporated Alexander McQueen pieces in their music videos.
McQueen was gay, and claimed he realised his sexual orientation when he was six. He told his family when he was 18 and, after a rocky period, his family accepted his sexuality. He described coming out at a young age by saying, "I was sure of myself and my sexuality and I've got nothing to hide. I went straight from my mother's womb onto the gay parade".
In the summer of 2000, McQueen unofficially married his partner George Forsyth, a documentary filmmaker, on a yacht in Ibiza. The relationship ended a year later and McQueen and Forsyth formed a close friendship.
McQueen received press attention after the May 2007 suicide of Isabella Blow. Rumours were published that there was a rift between McQueen and Blow at the time of her death, focusing on McQueen's under-appreciation of Blow. In response to these rumours, McQueen told an interviewer:
|“||It's so much bollocks. These people just don't know what they're talking about. They don't know me. They don't know my relationship with Isabella. It's complete bullshit. People can talk; you can ask her sisters ... That part of the industry, they should stay away from my life, or mine and Isabella's life. What I had with Isabella was completely dissociated from fashion, beyond fashion.||”|
McQueen was an accomplished scuba diver and used his passion as a source of inspiration in his designs, including Spring 2010's "Plato's Atlantis." Much of his diving was done around the Maldives.
McQueen's death was announced on the afternoon of 11 February 2010. He was found dead that morning in his wardrobe by his housekeeper at his home on Green Street, London W1. Paramedics were called and they pronounced him dead at the scene.
McQueen died days before London Fashion Week, though he was not scheduled to show, and nine days after the death of his mother, Joyce (75) from cancer.
McQueen left a note, the contents of which have not been revealed. The Metropolitan Police stated that the death was not suspicious, but did not confirm that the death was a suicide. On 17 February 2010, Westminster Coroner's Court was told that a post-mortem examination found that McQueen's death was due to asphyxiation and hanging. The inquest has been adjourned until 28 April 2010.
|“||On behalf of Lee McQueen's family, Alexander McQueen today announces the tragic news that Lee McQueen, the founder and designer of the Alexander McQueen brand, has been found dead at his home. At this stage it is inappropriate to comment on this tragic news beyond saying that we are devastated and are sharing a sense of shock and grief with Lee's family.
Lee's family has asked for privacy in order to come to terms with this terrible news and we hope the media will respect this.
—Alexander McQueen Office, Official Website, 11 February 2010
On 3 February 2010, he wrote on his Twitter page that his mother had died the day before, adding: "RIP mumxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx." Four days later he wrote that he had an "awful week" but said "friends have been great", adding: "now i have to some how pull myself together". His mother's funeral took place on 12 February 2010.
McQueen is survived by his father, three sisters, and two brothers.
On 18 February 2010, Robert Polet, the president and chief executive of the Gucci Group, announced that the Alexander McQueen business would carry on without its founder and creative director. He also added that a McQueen collection would be presented during Paris Fashion Week.