A host of designers have paid tribute to Alexander McQueen in the run-up to the opening of an exhibition paying tribute to him.
The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is staging Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, which opens officially on Wednesday. It includes many of the late designer’s key creations, including those he made while at Givenchy and while designing for his own label.
Lee McQueen – who took the name Alexander for his work – committed suicide last year after taking a cocktail of drugs. His passing shocked the fashion world, with Sarah Burton taking over from him at the label.
She spoke about working with him at the museum yesterday, saying she is still coming to terms with his death.
“He truly was a genius,” she said, then remembered one Sunday when he’d been inspired by sea shells collected during a walk.
“He came in on Monday morning with them in a bag. The studio smelt like the sea.”
The pieces eventually became part of a dress in his Spring/Summer 11 collection.
Other creations on display include a white gown from McQueen’s Autumn/Winter 06 collection Widows of Culloden. It’s made of lace and tulle and has a skirt which tumbles to the floor in layers, while the model wore a pair of antlers covered in the fabric – which also went across her face – on her head.
There is also a red creation from a 2001 collection. The skirt is full and made of red and purple feathers, and is linked to a halter neck top which is just a strip of fabric down the front of the model.
“For me, this feels horrific, but [McQueen] would have loved it – he would have pretended that he didn't, but he would have, and the wedding dress would have given him such a sense of validation,” milliner Philip Treacy said as he walked around the exhibit, according to British newspaper The Guardian.
“Fashion is supposed to be effortless, but when I look at every piece I think of what he put into it and how in the end the sheer pressure of creativity killed him. He promoted this idea of himself as an enfant terrible but he was actually a very sweet and gentle person – he wouldn't have wanted you to know that, either.”
Stella McCartney spoke of McQueen’s “genius”, while Madonna said fashion has become “a bit dull” following his death.