Thursday, February 18, 2010

(Finally) My Designer Education - Alexander McQueen

Old news by now but Alexander McQueen is dead at age 40. So in that respect, this post is very self-indulgent. I've been taking my time on writing this post, simply because I was, well, oddly very sad about this. I remember back when Kurt Cobain died and my friends in High School were so distraught. I didn't understand how anyone could be that broken up over a death that wasn't an immediate family member. Well, guys, I get it now. My therapist says "it's human" It's irrational... but it's human. I can accept that. (Yes, I actually spent time talking to my therapist about how I thought it was strange that I felt sad about this death - I am a little silly like that).

I first heard this news when Vampy Varnish sent out the tweet around 10 am. I was a little shocked. Like many, I think for a second I couldn't breath. Then had to bottle it up for a meeting (I was already emotional, having just been to my husband's grandmother's funeral a few days before). The rest of my day I was sort of on edge, wanting to learn more about this man, and at the same time looking forward to going home and getting very drunk. This event was momentous and huge! And very tragic. Luckily I had about 1/3 of a bottle of Sake left - my favorite drink when I just want to drink. My husband calls it Jet Fuel. Anyway...

I've known about Alexander McQueen for a good long while, longer than I know. I remmeber exactly when I was was aware that I was aware of Alexander McQueen... It was when Kenley on Project Runway essentially copied a McQueen dress for her final runway show. I remember seeing her dress and thinking "OMG! I know that dress! That's a copy of a McQueen dress!" And I have really no idea how I knew that... I just sort of did. I didn't follow fashion designers that much back then (I still don't, really, but I do it a lot more now). But I had an awareness.

Regardless, the moment I knew that I knew of Alexander McQueen was simply hillarious. I still look at photos of Kenley's dress, love it, and can NOT believe she didn't know she was copying something. Some designs I can buy that on. I really can. But a feather wedding dress??? I'm just not sure. Then again, I don't know Kenley so maybe I should give her the benefit of the doubt.

To remind you of that incident...

Alexander McQueen (left), Project Runway's Kenley (right)
Image from

Anyway, my knowledge has sort of been a bit nebulous like that. I've been able to look at designs and say "that looks like something that Alexander McQueen did..." and I was right. There was a certain style there that was just evident. But I had no real knowledge. It wasn't like learning about the existance of Chanel - I remember that exactly. I learned about Chanel when my mother told me the story about how Marilyn Monroe used to put Chanel #5 everywhere she wanted to be kissed and then would take a bath in it. I was in elementary school at the time - it's not the sort of story you forget. But I didn't know any such stories about Lee McQueen or his line. So to me that means I need to do some research. Designer Education... Oddly enough, the best synopsis I found of his life and work was on Also Wikipedia. And of course during the past week there have been numerous life recaps. Go Figure. Here's what I've learned:

Zappos describes Alexander McQueen as "a master at the mythology of the creative craft." He was 16 when he left school to pursue fashion. I learned from Wikipedia that he was the son of a taxi driver and was the youngest of six children (SIX CHILDREN!!!). I guess if you are the youngest of that many kids you have to establish yourself in some way. What a way for Lee McQueen to do it, eh?

Aside from the feather dress Kenley ripped off, here are a few other designs from McQueen I think are rather gorgeous. The first one I love because it reminds me of white stags and elves. I totally want to write a story about it. This is fashion that inspires me to be creative!

Image from Wild At Heart blog via Google Images

And I found the following from a forum topic called "The most beautiful dress I've ever seen" on The Fashion Spot. So I might be sketchy on the exact location of the images... according to poster on Fashion Spot
(Very Princess Leia, don't you think?) according to poster on Fashion Spot
(Always thought this was a haunting look on Gemma...
see below for the full dress, which I don't like that much) according to poster on Fashion Spot according to poster on Fashion Spot
(hate the makeup, love the dress. Totally could see myself wearing it)

Now on to some silly stuff. Because while I was looking up everything I was looking up, I learned some VERY silly stuff! And one of the best ways I know to feel better when you're feeling upset or sad is to laugh at the silly things. Thank you, McQueen, for leaving me with plenty to smile about.

What's a Bumster?
Image (right) from
Wikipedia says McQueen is known for the Bumster. What the heck is a "Bumster"? Apparently, it's a pair of pants that show your bum to the world. So now I know who we can blame for that whole movement. I definately know that is NOT a look I should ever purposely try to go for, though many of us have a tendency to not realize our cracks are showing when in fact they are. Incidentaly, I think the model used for this look on the runway (pictured) was supposed to be a plus size model. Yay!

The "Profanity" Incident
Also amusing was Wikipedia's anecdote about McQueen sewing profanity into the lining of a jacket for the Prince of Wales. I wonder if it was simply the word "profanity" (my husband is font of writing "profanity" in strange places) just to be silly. But wouldn't you like to see the lining of that jacket? Well, according to it read "I am a cunt". Ha! Can anyone verify that was really what it said? Because that totally takes guts, you know?

Image (Left) from via Google Images
Sumo also sent me this wonderful SFGate article. I had no idea that Janet Jackson's most infamous wardrobe malfunction (you know, the Superbowl nipple ring disaster) was one of McQueen's designs. Absolutely no idea. I guess I was too focused on how blank her face looked when the nipple disaster occurred. An accident? Yeah right!

Makeup, My Love!
Alexander McQueen and MAC

Image from via Google Images

Those are some seriously blue eyes! Not to mention the extremely heavy, maybe harsh, brow. It's beautyiful. Striking. In my opinion, pretty unwearable if you're taking the look straight from the runway (check out Padmita for a much more wearable version of this look).

Although this collection was beautiful, I think the only thing I purchased from it was Feline Eye Kohl. I took one look at the colors and thought there was no way I could wear them. Upon reflection, having looked again at Temptalia's swatches I realized something that this MAC collection did which I haven't seen others do - they matched paint pots with corresponding eye shadows. Now that makes so much sense! Why in the world hasn't MAC continued to do that?

I guess at this point I don't have too much more to say, and you're probably thinking I should shut up now. I know this post wasn't very educationaly but I did have a lot of fun going through old images and videos, reading articles, etc. If I didn't have a real job, I could have done a lot more work on this - this is that interesting.

Incidentally, back when my mom promised me she'd buy me "one of those dresses" I like if I were to lose weight and get down to size, I was thinking seriously about something McQueen. Think I can drop about 60 lbs overnight before the good stuff disappears from eBay?

Alexander McQueen,

You made an impression on this hopeless fashion-deprived Midwestern chick. I am sorry that your life had so much pain in it that you felt it was necessary to take yourself away from this world. Thank you for everything you've given us. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for making me laugh.