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A presiding aesthetic of dark romanticism imbues Alexander McQueen’s luxury collections. The pieces have a strong and distinctive style with elements of the dark and twisted along with the lugubrious and horrific. The luxury designer’s pieces sometimes read as paintings, as they investigate the liminal space between artistic masterpieces and runway designs.

The exclusive collection offers an expansive range of ready-to-wear garments, footwear, outerwear and more for the selective fashion-enthusiast who wants to make a bold statement. So, no matter whether you might be looking for a sweatshirt, joggers, sneakers, a biker jacket, silk scarves or sliders, the collections of Alexander McQueen might just have exactly what you are looking for.

Alexander McQueen – an Eponymous Fashion Label

Internationally recognized as a fashion pioneer, Lee Alexander McQueen was a one-of-a-kind British designer who dared to go where many wouldn’t ever have considered. He was infamous for his nonconformist designs and eclectic runway shows, which included performance art and unexpected shows such as models being spray-painted by robots on the runway and a life-size hologram of a famous supermodel. Like many controversial artists and designers, his creations have attracted more followers over time. Various viewers initially felt that the aggressive nature of his themes oversexualised his models and presented women in a disrespectful light. The designer explained his reasoning behind the heavy themes, “If people do say I portray women like that, it’s because I want to portray the way society still sees women in some ways, not the way I see women.”

Pop culture, historical and artistic themes inspire the luxury designer’s attention-grabbing pieces, while others have self-reflexive subjects. For example, some designs are based on the designer’s personal interests and genealogy, such as those respectively featuring motifs from scuba diving and a Scottish theme. The antagonistic and belligerent trends in Alexander McQueen's collections resulted in very polarised reviews – on one side, viewers were turned off by what they felt was too violent and overly provocative, while others found the darkness to be strikingly haunting and evocative.

The beginning, the end, and the legacy

Lee Alexander McQueen was born in 1969 in London. On Savile Row, he worked as a tailor’s assistant where he sharpened his sewing skills to a tee. This training served him very well, as his mastery in stitching together garments earned him recognition in fashion circles. The designer then decided to pursue studies at Central Saint Martins College of Art. The piece he submitted as the final project for graduation received very mixed reviews for its brutal nature. However, the influential fashionista Isabella Blow saw a spark of genius in the pieces and purchased his entire collection.

Alexander McQueen launched his own label in 1992. Isabella Blow became close with the up-and-coming designer, supporting his work and helping him network. She was also the one who helped come up with the name “Alexander McQueen,” as she had recommended the young designer to use his middle name as the first word of his fashion brand. Unfortunately, the iconic designer took his own life in 2010, at the age of forty. Throughout his career, the designer went against the stream to stand for his unique fashion aesthetic, challenging norms and presenting memorable and provocative pieces.

Iconic fashion moments

Explaining the dark and horrific themes in his work, the designer said “I find beauty in the grotesque.” Alexander McQueen was both inspired by royal garments, and he was also selected to design attire for royalty. When he held the position of Givenchy’s chief designer, he created a two-piece suit for the queen of Thailand. In addition to this honour, the designer also received numerous awards and accolades, including being a four-time winner of the "British Designer of the Year" award and a CBE, the honourable distinction of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

The designer exhibited at a show in 2019 that earned him widespread recognition in the fashion world and in the media. This show included a renowned amputee Paralympic athlete and model – the first amputee to ever strut the runway – who modelled a corset and wore wooden legs that resembled boots. The design of these wooden legs were so popular that viewers who had mistaken them for boots, were interested in acquiring them for their personal fashion collections. At the end of the show, two robots spray painted a former ballerina wearing a pristine white dress, splattering it with neon green and black paint. This finale demonstrated the designer’s fine arts approach to the catwalk.

Signature Pieces and Motifs

Alexander McQueen attracted international attention in another runway show, where he featured the extremely low rise trouser called “Bumster.” These bottoms went on to become an iconic model for his brand, as it highlighted the base of the spine in a way that other garments normally didn’t expose. Another signature piece is called “knucklebag,” a handbag with brass-knuckle inspired hardware on top. Various models of this bag have been in circulation, and in some, the violent associations of this bag are contrasted with lavish decoration. For example, one particular knucklebag design features an elaborately rhinestone-encrusted hardware at the top, with the sparkles and radiance contrasting with the heavy association of the weapon-inspired construction.

Some of the knucklebags feature one of Alexander McQueen’s most well-known symbols – the skull. A skull surfaces frequently in many of his collections, creating a contrast between the pomp and lavishness of the fashion world and the inside structure that the finery covers. The designer’s skull-decorated scarves met with enormous success and became an it-item for many exclusive circles all over the globe.

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Alexander McQueen

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