McQueen, Alexander

(1969- )
   Born Lee McQueen to a London cabbie and a genealogist, he was one of six children who grew up in London's East End. At the age of sixteen, McQueen entered the fashion industry as an apprentice to tailors Anderson & Shepherd of Savile Row. After two years, he moved to Gieves & Hawkes and furthered his knowledge of bespoke menswear. After a short stint at a theatrical costume house and with avant-garde designer Koji Tatsuno, he went to work in Milan for designer Romeo Gigli in 1989. He returned to London in 1990, seeking a job as a pattern cutter at the fashion college Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, but instead enrolled there as a student in its master's program. McQueen's senior collection was discovered by a Vogue fashion editor, Isabella Blow, and she set out to be his patron, muse, and PR agent. While working at Gigli, McQueen learned the power of the media and cleverly used his outrageous fashion shows to hype himself and his clothes. His famous "bumster" pants and sharp-edge tailoring, which he learned on Savile Row, are among his trademarks. In 1996, he signed a pact with Gibo, the Italian subsidiary of Onward Kashiyama of Japan (a promoter of emerging fashion talent), to make and distribute his men's and women's collection.
   Also in 1996, with only eight collections under his belt, he accepted the job as chief designer at Givenchy but insisted on keeping his own company independent from the parent company, Moët Hennessey Louis Vuitton (LVMH). His four-year term at Givenchy was a rocky one. However, he continued to impress the bourgeois French fashion establishment with his elaborate theatrical fashion productions that featured basketball players, robots, maggots, pirates, amputees, cult heroes, and powerful female imagery with a dark romantic edge. In 2000, while still at Givenchy, he sold a 51 percent share of his own company to the Gucci Group, the archrival of LVMH. In the same year he launched an expensive range of chil-drenswear as well as licensing his name to eyewear, leather goods, watches, neckwear, scarves, handkerchiefs, and umbrellas. In 2001, he left Givenchy, opened a store in New York City, launched a custom-made menswear collection in collaboration with Huntsman of Savile Row and continued to show his collection in Paris. In 2003, he opened two more stores, one in London and the other in Milan, and launched a fragrance called Kingdom. He is a three-time British Designer of the Year award winner and, in 2003, was named International Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for his services to the British fashion industry. In 2005, McQueen created his famous Novak bag, unveiled a footwear line for Puma, and launched a second ready-to-wear line called McQ-Alexander McQueen, a denim-based collection that included accessories.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

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