Alexander McQueen was born Lee McQueen, on March 17th 1969. He is one of the most influential British designers of our time. He has mastered 6 methods of pattern cutting from the melodramatic 16th Century to the brutally sharp tailoring which has become a McQueen 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. His parents begged him to change his mind and find himself a 'normal' job. McQueen went on to leave school at 16, landing himself an apprenticeship with top Savile Row tailors Anderson and Shepherd, then working for Gieves and 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 St Martins College of Art & Design for a Masters Degree. The designer had no formal education, but the director took one look at his portfolio and admitted him on the spot. He graduated from Central St Martins College of Art & Design in 1991.
Before opening his own studio in East London in 1992. McQueen soon 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 collections with titles like "Highland Rape". His outrageous designs attracted a small but loyal clientele, including such influential fashion figures as stylist Isabella Blow, who purchased his 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. But it has also been said that he was on welfare and for his first show he had to change his name so he could continue receiving checks. The president of LVMH, Bernard Arnault sent shock waves when he instated British Bad Boy Alexander McQueen as head designer at Givenchy in 1996, succeeding John Galliano. McQueen toned down his at Givenchy, but continued to let his rebellious streak run. The designer caused a huge stir in the fall of '98 with a show which included car-robots spraying paint over white cotton dresses and a disabled model striding down the catwalk on intricately carved wooden legs. McQueen stayed with Givenchy until March 2001.
Some of Alexander McQueen accomplishments include being one of the youngest designers to achieve the title 'British Designer of the Year' in 1996, 1997 and again in 2001. Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and earlier this year, McQueen was 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 with Alexander serving as Creative Director. Plans for expansion include the opening of stores worldwide and his perfume, Kingdom.
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