12 May 2011

Memories of McQueen by his biographer

Susannah Frankel, the fashion editor of the Independent, worked closely with Alexander McQueen for years, going right back to the mid Nineties. In fact, she was the journalist he trusted to collaborate with him on his biography, the manuscript of which has been used in the introduction to Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, the official book of the Met exhibition in New York which will be published on the 31st of May by The Metropolitan Museum of Art & Yale University Press.

In the fashion bi-annual ANother Magazine, Susannah describes a shoot that they were both involved in for the magazine Dazed & Confused, an issue of which McQueen was guest-editing at the time. His idea for the cover story was for designers like Hussein Chalayan, Philip Treacy and Rei Kawakubo of Comme Des Garcons to come up with specially commissioned looks for a group of people with varying physical disabilities to wear in a fashion editorial for the magazine. She describes her thoughts at the time;

‘It was obviously his idea. Who else would have been brave enough even to suggest such a thing? Might it not be too sensitive? Wouldn’t the fact that he was putting all these characters into one shoot then never featuring them again appear tokenistic? How can fashion – viewed by so many people as superficial – possibly think of taking on such a potentially difficult subject? The brilliant thing about the designer – one of the many, many brilliant things about the designer – was that he didn’t care one iota about what anyone else would think. He wanted to show that our preconceptions of beauty are too narrow by far, he said, [and] he did just that’

She also praised the late designer as ‘a young man who rose to fame provoking extreme reactions, not only among the public and press but also within the supposedly shockproof fashion industry’ and by saying ‘Lee Alexander McQueen was a magical man and it was a great privilege to work with him. He seemed to make sense of an industry that is often less than sensible and his memory lives on in all of our hearts.’

How moving. We can’t wait to see the book itself!


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