Alexander McQueen (born Lee McQueen, 17 March 1969) is one of the most influential English fashion designers. He has mastered 6 methods of pattern cutting from the flamboyant styles of the 16th Century to the sharp, contemporary tailoring which has become his signature.
Born in the East End of London on 17 March 1969, the son of a taxi driver, Alexander, whose real name is Lee McQueen, started running up dresses for his three sisters at a young age and announced his intention of becoming a top designer. McQueen went on to leave school at 16, landing himself an apprenticeship with top Savile Row tailors Anderson and Shepherd, then working for Gieves & Hawkes and the famous theatrical costumiers Angels and Bermans. While on Savile Row, McQueen's clients included Mikhail Gorbachev and Charles, Prince of Wales. The rumor is that McQueen graffitied four-letter words into the lining of the Prince's Savile Row jackets. When he was 20, McQueen went on to work for Koji Tatsuno and Romeo Gigli. McQueen applied to London's most prestigious fashion school, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design for a Masters Degree. Although he had no formal education, he was immediately admitted on the strength of his portfolio. He graduated from in 1991.
Before opening his own studio in East London in 1992, McQueen developed a reputation for controversy and shock tactics (earning the title "enfant terrible" and "the hooligan of English fashion"), with trousers aptly named "bumsters", and a collection entitled "Highland Rape". His provocative designs attracted a small but loyal clientele, including such influential fashion figures as stylist Isabella Blow, who purchased everything from his first collection, and was said to have persuaded McQueen to change his name from Lee to Alexander when he launched his fashion career. (It has also been claimed that he was on income support and that he needed to change his name for his first show so that he could continue to receive cheques.) The president of LVMH, Bernard Arnault caused a stir when he instated McQueen as head designer at Givenchy in 1996, succeeding John Galliano. McQueen toned down his act at Givenchy, but continued to indulge his rebellious streak, causing controversy in Autumn '98 with a show which included car-robots spraying paint over white cotton dresses, and disabled model Aimee Mullins striding down the catwalk on intricately carved wooden legs. McQueen stayed with Givenchy until March 2001.
Some of Alexander McQueen's accomplishments include being one of the youngest designers to achieve the title "British Designer of the Year", which he won four times between 1996 and 2003. He has also been awarded the CBE, as well as being named International Designer of the Year at the Council of Fashion Designer Awards. December 2000 saw a new partnership for McQueen with Gucci Group acquiring 51% of the company, and McQueen serving as Creative Director. Plans for expansion include the opening of stores worldwide and the launch of his perfume, Kingdom.