It's taken me some time to wrap my mind around the death of Alexander McQueen. I will not refer to him as Lee. That would be presumptuous of me, as I never had the pleasure of meeting him or being his friend. I, like most people, followed his career and admired his work from a remove. His was a talent that was so unique and specific that it took time for me to grasp its enormity. I started to understand it the first time I ventured into his boutique in New York's Meat Packing district. Looking at the clothes, touching them and seeing first hand the beauty of their quality and craftsmanship, opened my eyes wide. There were only a few people inside, more sales people than customers, but there was a very warm and comfortable atmosphere enveloping that store so jammed with amazing clothes, accessories, shoes and jewelry. Two women were trying on suits with the help of extremely capable salespeople and fitters. The suits on these ladies were so beautifully cut and quirky in their subtle detail that I stood watching and blurted that they must buy them, no matter the investment. Both of them turned to me and sheepishly agreed. Suffice it to say , I was very impressed and that much more intrigued by the person behind it all.
Two seasons ago, the collection that to me was more amphibious and extra-terrestrial than earthbound, sent me reeling. I couldn't get over the prints, the manipulation of such commanding fabrics, the absolutely strange shoes and lastly, the make-up and hair which utterly transformed the models. Though I wrote about it as otherworldly, I didn't get the gravity or his telescopic vision until Avatar appeared. It looked like Alexander predated and predicted a vision of women that made that film immediately look dated. I can be very stubborn and wary of art and design that attempts to dramatically alter the landscape, but he did it constantly and doggedly from his first collection to his final offering. Offering is the word that comes to mind looking at the last 16 pieces that he made. To call it a collection is to tether it to a season, this business, this earth. That would be an injustice and hopelessly mundane.
When I look at these last pieces I am sure that he and everyone working closely with him knew that he was finished with his work and preparing to move on. The fact that he cut them all himself, if in fact that is true and I don't for a moment doubt it, Alexander seemed to be making an offering to the heavens. They look as though they were his attempt to mirror the divine with man made images. It appeared that a man who had been given divine gifts was showing his gratitude by offering them back to the place from where they originated. I'm not religious in the conventional sense so I don't say this easily or lightly. It's all that I can come up with after wracking my brain for an answer.
Analyzing and dissecting each piece is a pointless exercise, just as much as trifling over who will take over the house. None of that is terribly important as they are the day to day mundane decisions that conglomerates and businesses occupy themselves with. What matters are the gifts that we were lucky to receive just by being present for the short time that Alexander McQueen wielded his mighty scissors. What luck of timing, what incredible visions of worlds he shared with us. I can only feel amazement and joy when I think of his life's work. And now that it has come to an end, all I feel is a profound gratitude to have been seated in the audience.
Images courtesy of Style.com