The night before Alexander McQueen’s Plato’s Atlantis collection was to be staged in Paris, on 6 October 2009, Sam Gainsbury, McQueen’s show producer, tried on the reptile-scaled lobster-claw shaped boots that became known as armadillo shoes. The heels were 10 inches high. “I couldn’t walk,” she said. “So I went and found Lee [Alexander McQueen’s given name] and I said, ‘I can’t walk in these, and I can walk in any heel. This could be a disaster. What if the girls fall?’ And he said, ‘If they fall, they fall.’”
Had they fallen, they would have done so in the first catwalk show ever to be live streamed on the internet. With one twist of an ankle that show could have been remembered for callously putting young women in danger. McQueen, bloody-minded, made it into a victory parade. “Before the show Lee was backstage with all these 17-year-old models,” Gainsbury recalled, “looking into their eyes, telling them how incredible they looked, how proud he was, that they could do it. He gave them such confidence. And not one of them fell. It was like a gift, with Lee. He made you feel like you were capable of anything.”
Plato’s Atlantis was to be the last catwalk show at which McQueen would take a bow. Four months later, in the bleak twilight days between his mother’s death and burial, he took his own life at the age of 40. An inquest found that he had taken cocaine, sleeping pills and tranquillisers, before hanging himself.
The armadillo shoes illustrate McQueen’s troubling presence in British culture. His point of view was menacing, disturbing and uncompromising. In 1995, he grabbed public attention with the Highland Rape show, in which models with matted hair, their eyes blanked out by opaque contact lenses, strode the catwalk with breasts exposed under ripped dresses. Where the audience saw references to sexual violence, McQueen claimed he had intended a political commentary on the Highland clearances of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The brutal imagery of this debut, echoed in many subsequent seasons – Joan, the autumn/winter 1998 show, ended with a model circled by a ring of flames; Voss, spring/summer 2001, came to a climax with a glass box shattering to reveal moths fluttering around the masked face of a naked woman – was matched only, for sucker‑punch impact, by McQueen’s death.
It was probably inevitable that McQueen, the four-times British fashion designer of the year, would come to be defined by shock and violence. In spite of his talent and hard work, success was always fraught with internal struggle. In the aftermath of his death, many concluded that his was a narrative in which darkness was always going to triumph over light. Many felt that this bleak ending had been where his story was heading all along: when he died, McQueen scarves with a skull print motif sold out all over the world. By the end of his life, he was battling depression and drug addiction. His marriage to the documentary film-maker George Forsyth had lasted just one year; after their breakup, his relationships with lovers and colleagues became increasingly fractious. If they fall, they fall; and when they do, that is the part people remember.
Then, within a year of his death, the house McQueen founded emerged from chaos and trauma, reborn under his longtime righthand woman, Sarah Burton. Burton – mild-mannered and soft-spoken, a pink-cheeked blonde to McQueen’s shaven-haired Eastender – gave a kiss of life to the house, bringing it into the light when the Duchess of Cambridge wore a Burton-designed Alexander McQueen wedding gown. Her vision of timeless glamour had the unintentional effect of casting McQueen himself into the shadows. He had to be the bad boy who preceded the good girl.
Five years after his suicide, the work of Alexander McQueen is to be honoured at the V&A with a major retrospective that opens next month. Titled Savage Beauty, it was originally staged at the Metropolitan Museum in New York four years ago. And now that the initial shock of McQueen’s death has subsided, the man who emerges from the exhibition is a more nuanced figure. The Met exhibition was staged so soon after McQueen’s death that it became part of a grieving process; the London incarnation has a more celebratory mood. The inclusion of more of McQueen’s early work, from shows staged before he left London fashion week to show in Paris in 2001, has brought a fresh energy to the exhibition. And with the mourning robes cast off, McQueen appears less a creature of the night. His worldview was dark in the way that Darwin’s or Dickens’s worldview was dark: it was passionate and curious, which is quite different from being nihilistic. His drive to examine the underbelly of the beast was motivated by a sense of wonder at the beast itself.
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Sarah Burton still works in McQueen’s light-filled Clerkenwell studio. She worked closely with him for 14 years, before becoming his successor aged 36. When I visited, boards pinned with scraps of embroidery, squares of woven tweed and wisps of lace were stacked against Perspex boxes, containing archived clothes and accessories, towering towards the skylights. On the floor was a pile of McQueen’s beloved reference books: Living Jewels, a huge tome of exquisite closeups of beetles, and another on German artist Rebecca Horn’s installation piece Moon Mirror. A tape measure was coiled on top of a glossy exhibition catalogue of Jenny Saville. A collection of Escher’s graphic art lay between photographs of Siamese fighting fish and William Blake’s illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy.
“It wasn’t really about fashion, with Lee,” said Burton. “It was so much more than that. It was about everything that was to do with being alive. It was all the difficult parts, and all the beautiful parts as well. He’d come in with an idea for a collection and it would be, ‘It’s about a shipwreck.’ He was fascinated by death and decay, but he was full of energy. When he was up here, doing fittings, it was a whirlwind, like a dance with the mannequin.” Working with Lee, she said, made you feel alive.
Burton had pulled out a stack of box lever files in which were archived the inspirational mood boards and studio fittings for the Plato’s Atlantis collection. What McQueen created, on the catwalk, as a dystopian army representing a human race mutating into underwater creatures complete with prosthetic gills, revealed itself to be, in genesis, a study in natural beauty. An image of two penguins with heads bent together to create a loveheart silhouette was developed, as I turned the pages, into the template for a printed dress with a line of symmetry running down the breastbone. A closeup of dewdrops on the wing of a beetle, and another of lizard skin, became shards of broken mirror and sequins, reproduced as digital prints.
A member of McQueen’s close family, who preferred not to be named, explained that his loved ones have been frustrated by “a picture that gets painted of an angry man. Yes, Lee had his struggles, and darkness makes for a good story, so I understand people want to talk about that. But Lee also had a real romantic side, a loving and beautiful side. He loved children, for instance – he spent a lot of time with his nephews and nieces, and he was so good to them. You never hear about that.”
There is no purpose in a retrospective sugarcoating of McQueen, and no mileage in a hearts and flowers reading of an archive steeped in the imagery of Hitchcock’s women and Hans Bellmer’s dolls. Contradiction and duality lie at the heart of the man and his work. The Savage Beauty exhibition opens with a lenticular hologram by the designer’s nephew Gary James McQueen, used as the invitation to his spring/summer 2009 show. It shows McQueen’s face morphing into a human skull. McQueen, who grew up in Stratford long before it dreamed of hosting the Olympics, was, in his own words, a pink sheep in a family of black cab drivers. (At the same time, he hated it when journalists would ask him about this well-worn backstory. “Is that all you’ve got?” he would sneer.) He had two names: christened Lee Alexander McQueen, he used Alexander when he started his label to avoid jeopardising his unemployment benefit. While most of his friends and colleagues called him Lee in private, he remained Alexander to the press and to his friend and mentor Isabella Blow, simply because she felt it suited him. (“Alexander the Great” was the pet name she gave him.)
The man who realised, aged six, on a family holiday at Pontins, that he was gay – and who, in Stratford, became the only boy in a 40-strong synchronised swimming team – would later leave Bermans & Nathans theatrical costumers because there were “too many queens for me”. His family remember a bright boy with a mischievous, contrary streak: “You had to bite your tongue and not say, ‘Lee, don’t do that’ – because if you said don’t do it, he’d find a way to do it,” I was told. In 2004, McQueen was interviewed by his mother for the Guardian, as part of a series curated by Sam Taylor-Wood (as she was then known). One of Joyce McQueen’s questions was, “Who would your ideal dinner guest be?” To which her son answered, Elizabeth I. Why, she asked. “Because she was an anarchist,” he replied.
McQueen was devoted to his mother, and the relationship set a pattern for a career in which he surrounded himself with strong female figures. It is striking how many of the key players in the McQueen story are women, from the very early days, through his much-publicised 1990s rise, his tumultuous and unhappy tenure at the Paris house of Givenchy (1996-2001), and the transition from avant-garde oik to commercial powerhouse. As well as Gainsbury and Burton there was Katy England, his very first collaborator, a stylist he met in 1994, who became his creative director; and Amie Witton (now Witton-Wallace), who acted as his PR and gatekeeper from 1995. “It was never just like these women worked for Alexander,” remembered Philip Treacy, the milliner who made hats and headpieces for McQueen’s catwalk shows. “He did what he did with Katy. It was Katy who would come to see me, bringing images, books, clothes, and very calmly talk me through everything. Sometimes he wouldn’t see the hats until quite late on in the process. Then I’d go round there with the boxes and he’d be so excited, rubbing his hands together like a kid on Christmas morning.”
The most famous of McQueen’s circle of women was Isabella Blow, who killed herself in May 2007. In March 1992, the day before his 23rd birthday, McQueen’s student work was featured as part of the graduate show for his Central St Martins MA. In the audience was Blow, then an associate editor at Vogue. She spotted McQueen’s talent immediately – his clothes made the girls walk like birds, she told her husband when she got home that night. She decided to make him her project. “Isabella was a very interesting person, and she lived in an interesting way, and she had this amazing house and loved to make her life into stories she could tell,” said Treacy. “And she was an extraordinarily strong character. I wasn’t necessarily too happy about sharing her attention with Alexander at first, but she wouldn’t hear of any nonsense. She insisted we worked together, no two ways about it. And we did, and she was completely right, because we loved working together.”
When he dressed his catwalk models in painful corsets and ripped dresses, blotted out their eyes and stuck animal fur to their limbs, critics saw a fear or hatred of women. But that’s all wrong, his family insists. “It’s not just that he wasn’t a misogynist,” they told me, “he was the opposite of a misogynist. All the women in our family are strong, and then when he was in fashion he surrounded himself with strong women.”
McQueen’s shows often portrayed women in peril: whether the taut drama of a woman in stilettos walking alone in the dark (the Hitchcock-inspired autumn/winter 2005 show, The Man Who Knew Too Much) or the supermodel Karen Elson apparently dancing herself to death in Deliverance (spring/summer 2004). Even when tragic, these women “are never, ever pitiful”, said Professor Claire Wilcox, who as senior fashion curator is responsible for bringing Savage Beauty to the V&A. McQueen often spoke of his clothes as being armour. An early room of Savage Beauty features a bank of film in which models from McQueen’s shows stalk the catwalk. “They don’t look vulnerable,” said Wilcox. “Actually, they look like they might punch you.”
In his last five years McQueen fell out with some, though not all, of these women. A pattern seems to emerge in which McQueen was unable to accept “his” women, as they grew up, putting the needs of husbands and babies first. He demanded, almost, a mother’s love. And yet even those who were cast out defend his memory with a ferocious passion.
Even at their most extreme, McQueen’s shows were not about crude violence. Andrew Bolton of the Metropolitan Museum, curator of the original Savage Beauty exhibition, suggests that the work should be seen as “a meditation on the dynamics of power, particularly the relationship between predator and prey”.
“He had a fascination with the chase and the predator,” said England, who spoke to me from Paris, where she was styling the Givenchy and Jil Sander menswear shows. “It was about the idea that we were all hunted.” McQueen himself identified more with the prey, she said. The distinctive winged black eye markings of the Thompson’s gazelle – the smallest, most vulnerable animal of its kind – were a recurring motif. His graduate collection – which featured strands of human hair in the linings of frock-coat jackets – was called Jack The Ripper Stalks His Victims. The paralympian Aimee Mullins, who featured in the show No 13 (spring/summer 1999) wearing elaborately carved wooden prosthetic legs that McQueen had designed based on the carvings of sculptor Grinling Gibbons has talked about how “Lee saw scars not as a reminder of violence, but as a badge of survival … a proud emblem of self-creation. He helped me to find that attitude in myself, and helped me to find empowerment.”
Animal imagery recurs in nearly every Alexander McQueen collection, much of it expressing femininity in an unsettling way. In the Horn of Plenty collection (autumn/winter 2009) glossy black duck feathers were fashioned into outsize pieces, dwarfing the models so that their heads looked tiny – more like birds than people. “To me this does,” said Wilcox in her cool curatorial phrasing, “seem to reflect some anxiety around women.”
When I visited Wilcox at the V&A just after Christmas, the conservation room was already busy preparing the exhibition, clothes coming out from under their paper shrouds and being brought to life. Still half hidden was a dress from the autumn/winter 2000 Eshu collection, with a corset of lime green seed beads over a horsehair skirt. The beaded fringing of the corset burrowed into the horsehair to look like lice, the effect beautiful and disturbing. Some of the museum’s mannequins had their torsos hacked out, the waists of McQueen’s clothes being impossibly small, even by mannequin standards. A jacket of gilded feathers inspired by Icarus, from Angels and Demons, the collection McQueen was working on when he died, was being restored.
In the Voss show (spring/summer 2001) a headdress of taxidermied hawks appeared to claw at the model’s face; in the next collection, What a Merry Go Round, a fox skeleton (stripped of the more traditional fur) was draped around the shoulders of an elegant silk and wool dress. “It seems to be to do with a sense of animal characteristics bursting out, as if he couldn’t contain that animal nature. It’s disturbing, even frightening,” said Wilcox. But the natural world also inspired some operatically romantic pieces. The Widows of Culloden collection (autumn/winter 2006) included a headdress made of mallard wings either side of a nest containing seven pale blue eggs, individually encrusted with Swarovski crystals.
“Fashion is about identity, authorship, remaking yourself,” said Wilcox. “The narrative in McQueen was about transformation, like a snake shedding its skin. And it seems to me that’s an ultimately optimistic notion.”
When McQueen was a boy, he had liked to watch the kestrels who for many years returned each spring to nest on the top of the tower block opposite the kitchen window of his family home. His mother Joyce, a keen nature lover, had noticed the nests, and pointed them out to him. Later, while spending weekends practicing falconry at Blow’s country estate, McQueen relished the contrast with his early foray into ornithology.
Gainsbury remembered McQueen as “so knowledgeable on every kind of bird, every kind of animal. And he was obsessed with National Geographic magazine. I mean, obsessed.” When I visited Burton in the McQueen studio, the floors were still piled high with the distinctive yellow and green livery of the magazine. “If he was referencing a bird, he wanted to reproduce the exact feather pattern, he wanted it to be completely authentic.” England said that “nature was always there with Lee, from the beginning. That wasn’t something he got from me, it had come with him from his childhood. The very first collection we worked on together was called The Birds, and when he got the Givenchy job and we went to Paris, and he got to see what the Givenchy ateliers could do with feathers, he was just blown away.” The photographer Anne Deniau, who took many portraits of McQueen and whose camera was from 1997 to 2010 the only one allowed backstage at McQueen shows, felt that he loved “the lightness, the delicacy, of feathers. The beauty, but also the extraordinary cleverness of the engineering.”
Wilcox discerns a distinctively British, David Attenborough-influenced cinematic vision of nature that recurs on the McQueen catwalk: the glistening feathers, the crisp shells, the seaspray sparkle of crystals – even, in Voss, a bodice of microscope slides, overlapping like giant fish scales. Shaun Leane, the jeweller, was a close friend and collaborator of McQueen for 20 years. “The elements you use in jewellery come from the earth,” explains Leane, “metal, gemstones. Lee loved the detail you find in nature, the combination of fragility and strength. He brought his own perspective to it: for instance, I’d worked with pearls in a classical way before I met Lee, but then with him we took a pearl and set it into a taxidermied pheasant’s claw, and made an earring.”
Joyce was also a keen amateur genealogist, who could trace her family back to the Huguenots who had settled in Spitalfields. She imbued her son with a keen sense of British history, taking him and his siblings on Sunday outings to the Tower of London, Hampton Court, and – a particular favourite of the young McQueen’s – the V&A. The aristocratic Blow also had a huge influence on McQueen’s worldview, fuelling an interest in history and pageantry. McQueen “felt and understood the power of tradition, which was why he loved to subvert it”, said Gainsbury. When, in 2003, the designer who had loved to provoke with anti-monarchist statements was presented with his CBE, he told his parents that on meeting the Queen their eyes met, “and it was like falling in love”. He was part of a very British tradition of rebels who truly capture the public imagination.
McQueen’s career began on Savile Row, at Anderson & Sheppard, a period now best known for a story that may be apocryphal: that he chalked graffiti into the linings of suits he made for Prince Charles. McQueen told this tale several times – the words varied from “McQueen was here” to more profane messages, between tellings – and so, years later, Anderson & Sheppard asked the prince’s valet for the suits of that era back, in order to examine the linings. Nothing was found, and his former employers concluded the story to be “make-believe”. However, in her book Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, Dana Thomas quotes the designer Romeo Gigli, who employed McQueen in Milan some years later, telling how when working on a new jacket shape in the Gigli studio McQueen was asked to remake it several times. Taking it apart after the third attempt, Gigli found that McQueen had written “Fuck you” on the inner lining.
McQueen himself said of his first job at Anderson & Sheppard, “it was like Dickens, sitting cross-legged on a bench and padding lapels and sewing all day – it was nice”. It was exacting work, for which McQueen had a natural talent. He had mastered the construction of a “forward” – the first draft of a jacket, ready for fitting on a client – in two years, where most apprentices took three. By 1990, when he enrolled at Central St Martins, McQueen had learned tailoring in Savile Row, complex historical pattern cutting at Bermans & Nathans, avant garde construction at the hip designer Koji Tatsuno, and received a grounding in the workings of the fashion industry under Gigli in Milan. As a result, McQueen had a practical knowledge that was unusual 20 years ago, and would be unheard of now. Everyone who worked with him has a story about him cutting fabric on the body, or throwing someone off a machine to sew something himself, if he thought it wasn’t being done well or fast enough. It was by making the clothes himself, said Treacy, that he was able to make something truly original. “If you send a pattern to a pattern cutter in a factory in Italy – you can send it to the best factory, and they are brilliant at what they do, but the pattern cutter will interpret what you’ve done and you end up with something generic. Alexander could cut patterns himself and make the clothes himself, and it was by doing that that he could project what he wanted to say with such intensity.”
McQueen’s first few collections never went into commercial production. It is said that Kylie Minogue was the only person who actually bought a pair of his low-rise “bumster” trousers. Apart from Kylie, if you have a pair, it is because McQueen gave them to you. No pieces exist from the autumn/winter 1993 Taxi Driver collection, because after that show McQueen took the clothes into King’s Cross and, too broke to pay to put them in the cloakroom, left them in bin bags outside a club. When he came out, they were gone. He didn’t care; he was already planning the next thing.
In 1995, in answer to criticism of his Highland Rape collection, an exasperated McQueen told reporters, “We’re not talking about models’ feelings here. We’re talking about mine.” In a way, he always was: in her New Yorker review of Savage Beauty at the Met, Judith Thurman described McQueen’s work as “a form of confessional poetry”. As McQueen’s relative recalled, “we could always see the place he was in just by seeing the show. When it was dark it was upsetting because we’d think maybe Lee wasn’t feeling too happy.” As Nick Knight, the photographer and close collaborator of McQueen, told me: “Of course it was about him. Any artist’s work is ultimately about themselves, and their perspective on the world. And McQueen was a true artist. He worked in fashion because he believed – as I do – that it is the most relevant, the most exciting medium of our time. Which, of course, is why it has the capacity to outrage.”
Ultimately, McQueen was a storyteller. “When Lee had an idea for a collection it would never be, Brigitte Bardot in the 60s, or those kind of obvious fashion references,” remembers Gainsbury. “It was a character, a story, not a look.” (On his right biceps was tattooed a quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.”) “I don’t think he ever saw it as a job, as just making clothes,” Gainsbury continued. “He saw it as: this is what I want to say.” The tense mood of the staging was a device to capture the audience’s attention for what Gainsbury called “the ghost-train ride” of the experience.
McQueen’s abrasive, East End persona was not an easy fit in the fashion industry in the early days. In Treacy’s recollection, when Blow first took McQueen under her wing he wasn’t allowed into the Vogue office where she worked, because “the other girls thought he was going to steal their handbags. He’d bring his samples and Isabella had to smuggle him up in the goods lift to get them to the fashion cupboard.” And yet it is his gentleness, tenderness and humour that those close to him remember. His family recall that as a boy McQueen “had a wicked sense of humour, he’d have us all in stitches. He loved to wind mum up, and then give her a big cuddle.”
When Witton-Wallace arrived to interview for the PR job at McQueen’s first Hoxton Street studio in 1995, “Lee asked me, ‘What are your hobbies? Do you have any brothers and sisters? Do you have any pets?’ And then he burst out laughing and said, ‘I’ve never interviewed anyone before’ – which, to be honest, was pretty obvious – and then he said I had to come to his party tomorrow night, and that would be the real interview. I think I started working there the day after the party.” The walls at the studio were covered in damp, and McQueen slept in the back, on a bed behind a curtain, “so in the mornings I had to let myself in and be really quiet until he woke up at about 11 o’clock. But you just knew that you wanted to be in his gang, whatever it took.”
There is a fairytale, Elves and the Shoemaker quality to the team’s memories of that time. Once, Witton-Wallace recalled, “Lee had an idea for a jacket, and he started pattern cutting at about 5pm, by midnight I left him there alone, cutting the fabric. The next morning I was the first in, and Lee was still asleep. Everything was quiet, and there was the jacket on the stand – finished, perfect.” As the business grew, McQueen moved to Amwell Street where the studio was “like a magic porridge pot of creativity”, said Witton-Wallace. “There would be people working on the stairs because there was no room, dresses being dyed in buckets, and crazy show-concept meetings where everyone was shouting and swearing and knocking over jugs of water but somehow these incredible ideas came out of them.” She added, echoing Burton: “It made you feel alive.”
As his business grew, McQueen moved from the East End to Islington, and finally to Mayfair. “His homes were beautiful,” said Witton-Wallace. “He cooked a really good roast chicken, and he loved being on the sofa with his dogs, watching Blue Planet. And he had incredible taste. He had polished concrete floors before anyone else did, he collected mid-century furniture before anyone else did. But then there’d be a Nike shoebox on a table and you’d open it and there’d be, like, a rabbit skull inside it,” On her bed, Witton-Wallace had laid out to show me the ivory silk dress McQueen made for her wedding in 2005. It is staggeringly intricate in construction, with two internal corsets; a baby blue silk bow has been stitched by hand, for luck, into the lining. McQueen’s public persona was, for the most part, tough and unyielding, but there were occasions when this warmth was glimpsed: when, in the midst of the Kate Moss cocaine scandal of 2005 he took a bow on a Paris catwalk wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “We Love You Kate” ; and later, when he dedicated La Dame Bleu (spring/summer 2008) to the memory of Blow, filling the show space with her signature scent, Fracas.
Witton-Wallace recalled “how funny he was, and how naughty. Once he phoned up a girl who was working with me in the press office, pretending to be Michael Jackson’s bodyguard and asking to borrow a McQueen jacket for Michael, just to hear what she’d say. He took his work seriously but he saw the absurdity of it, too. When he opened his New York store in the Meatpacking District we arrived at the party and got out of the cab, and all the flashbulbs were popping, and he turned to me and said, ‘Look at us – it’s like the Trotters winning the lottery.’”
Puncturing the snobbery around fashion mattered to McQueen. He said to me once that while he didn’t care what I wrote, he loved it when the Guardian printed the show photos large-scale in the broadsheet, because he wished more people could see his shows. “I’d go to his hotel room the morning after shows to read him the reviews, because that was my job,” said Witton-Wallace, “and I’d be halfway through and he’d go, ‘Amie, shall we get a bacon sandwich?’ and I’d realise he wasn’t even listening.” What he did care about, said Gainsbury, was that his team were proud of what they’d done. “He genuinely didn’t give a shit about anyone else. In the studio he’d go, ‘Do we like it? Because that’s all that matters.’”
The run of Savage Beauty at the V&A has already had two weeks added to a planned four-month time slot, and additional evening openings, as a result of advance demand for tickets. In New York, the show was a sleeper hit, which began with relatively modest numbers but, through word of mouth, broke out of the relatively narrow demographic of Costume Institute visitors, to be seen by a total of 660,000 people. At last year’s press launch for Savage Beauty’s homecoming leg Martin Roth, the V&A director, told a story about the day, four years ago, when he landed in New York to see the show there. “Well, you know those immigration guys at the airport,” he said. “‘The purpose of your visit?’ I said, I want to see a show in a museum. ‘No,’ the guy said. So I said, excuse me, what do you mean, no? And he said, ‘That Alexander McQueen show is completely sold out. I’ve tried three times, my wife has tried three times. And it closes on Monday. You’ve got no chance.’ I had to tell him I had an appointment, so that he’d let me through.” It is another classic McQueen story: disconcerting, strange, and yet, at some level, joyful. As the accompanying notes of Angels and Demons, McQueen’s posthumous Paris fashion week show, read: “Each piece is unique, as was he.”
• Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A runs from 14 March to 2 August 2015
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- This article was amended on 12 February 2015. McQueen left the clothes from his the autumn/winter 1993 Taxi Driver collection in bin bags outside a club in King’s Cross, not Soho as originally stated. This has been corrected.