The magic of McQueen

As the film credits rolled, I surreptitiously tried to smear away my tears with my sleeve in the darkness of the cinema.


Fashion designer Alexander McQueen was – is – one my personal creative heroes. He was, it appeared to me, the conduit for a terrifying, utterly fierce creative energy that ripped through him like a wild tiger. And yet he handled it brilliantly.


Throughout the biographic documentary about his life, simply titled McQueen, I sat stunned as image after image of imagination-defying creations bloomed across the screen. Dark romance, it seems, was an underlying theme. Glittering skulls, gently mouldering flowers, gold-gilt, taxidermy and killer tailoring skills all played a part – as did a sparkling personality, intense passion, unbearable business pressure and depression.


Described as 'mercurial and anti-establishment', McQueen was the son of a London cab driver, and hailed from unassuming East London with one O level in art. And yet somehow, through in intriguing cocktail of tenacity, prodigious talent, personal magnetism and a helpful dose of luck, he managed to break into the gated enclaves of high fashion and completely steal the show.


'He liked to work at night,' one of his contemporaries commentated, while I nodded in agreement. 'When he was designing, his eyes almost went black, and it was like he couldn't hear you if you spoke to him.'


A culmination of personal tragedy and creative exhaustion led to McQueen taking his own life at the age of 40. However, the inspiration of his legacy is still very much alive.

(The drawing below was inspired after seeing an exhibition of McQueen's work at the V&A, London)