The year 2009 was the year to die. It seemed like all the major pop culture icons were dying. Natasha Richardson, John Hughes, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, the Oxi-Clean guy and Bill Clinton’s cat Socks (and while not a pop culture icon but still worth mentioning, my own cat K.C. Chewbacca Schildhause.) It was a tough year, but 2010 is starting out equally grim with last week’s news of Alexander McQueen’s death. While the celebrity deaths of 2009 were shocking, the recent death of fashion designer Alexander McQueen is not only shocking but has left me genuinely upset.
Last Thursday I walked around with a cloud over my head telling everyone I saw on campus, “McQueen is dead!” There were many blank stares as my fellow students responded, “who is that?” It was then that I became even sadder that many USF students are unaware of the genius that is Alexander McQueen.
As college students you are probably wondering why you should care. Many of us don’t have the budget for a McQueen wardrobe (although he did offer lower priced fashions with his secondary line McQ and a year ago had a collection available at Target) but although we not own a garment by McQueen this does not mean the man has not affected our fashion choices. Remember the low-rise jean trend of the late 90s and early zippies? All McQueen my friends. Tartan gowns, skull scarves, Lady Gaga’s larger-than-the-average-head’s shoes – all McQueen.
As if death isn’t bad enough, what’s worse is the fact that his death was a suicide (reports have said he hung himself.) The man was insanely talented and his fans, many whom are on the verge of obsessive, were obviously not enough to keep him from taking his life. His death has put quite a damper on New York fashion week. How are we to celebrate and indulge in fashion shows while simultaneously mourning one of the most talented designers of the century?
I remember last Valentine’s Day I proclaimed that McQueen was my Valentine as I stood in line for 2 hours in the cold New York February weather to for the release of his McQueen for Target line. I was so eager to finally own something with the McQueen stamp of approval, and the wait was worth it. Unlike many artists, who rely on death to boost their fame, McQueen’s death was not a necessary means of bringing attention to his talent.
He was highly regarded as well as the rebel of the fashion world, or the enfant terrible as he was often called. His shows were ones I always looked forward to reading about and seeing pictures of. He created outrageous, scandalous yet wearable garments and knowing that he is no longer present puts a hole in my life. Sounds dramatic, but he was the crème de la crème of the fashion world and as someone with a deeply invested interest in fashion, a life without McQueen seems empty and sad.
To have someone in the world capable of such talent is a gift. All of those who can appreciate fine art will understand that the fact that such a talent is gone leaves a part of my life dead. We are left asking, what is the fate of fashion without McQueen? Is their life for fashion lovers after McQueen?