Around this time last year, I was ready for bed and almost certain that I would be propelled into a deep sleep as soon as my head touched the pillow. I laid down and then my phone buzzed. I ignored it. It buzzed again.
I was unemployed during this period so decided to stop acting like I had just finished a 246 hour shift and gave the message a read.
It was my sister and she’d written “OMG MATE SAVAGE BEAUTY IS FINALLY COMING TO LONDON. WE HAVE BEEN CAMPAIGNING FOR IT FOR YEARS. I HAVE TO GET TICKETS.”
Before I even had a chance to reply my phone started to ring and it was her. I prepared myself for 4 consecutive hours of screaming as she been a McQueen fan ever since I can remember.
I was never too fussed. My main memory of McQueen was when I went to visit my sister in Manchester for a week, years ago. She was worried that I would be bored to the point of no return whilst she was at work so shouted “don’t forget you can give the books on the coffee table a read as well!” as she slammed the door behind her.
I remember them clearly. There was a couple of interior design books, a mint green Vivienne Westwood one and at the very bottom a brown one that I was instantly drawn to. It read “Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty” along the spine and had a captivating hologram cover.
I recall delicately flicking through the pages admiring the impeccably made garments, noting how each piece was unique as well as enchanting. I was concious of his work as I am sure a lot of people are but could never really be described as an “Alexander McQueen fan”. I just didn’t have an opinion on it really and thinking back on it now, I believe that this was purely down to the fact that I had never really made an effort to get to know more about his work.
After listening to my sister frantically explain to me that tickets for the exhibition went on sale the following day at nine and “if you ever do anything for me in your life it has to be this” I agreed. She had work in the morning so couldn’t get them herself and I was given full, clear and concise instructions. Make sure you’re up at nine, have your laptop and phone ready to hand because tickets are going to sell out sharpish and whatever you do, Get. Them. Tickets.
I suppose at the time it just felt nice to have something to wake up for in the morning so I set my alarm and went to sleep.
In the end It took me 4 hours to get the tickets. 4 HOURS. I was exhausted by the end of it and after having put in so much effort to attain them, I made a decision to spend the next year studying McQueen’s work as much as I could in time for the exhibition.
In the beginning, it was purely because I didn’t want my sister to feel as though she was going to see McQueen’s work with a plank of wood. However, the more I researched the more fascinated I became.
I watched his runway shows, documentaries and interviews, as well as studied any books and articles I could find. One thing became clear, McQueen was incredibly talented. A genius some were saying.
I will quite happily admit that although I once believed that Alexander McQueen was not my cup of tea, it was a judgement made on complete and utter ignorance.
A few days ago we went to the exhibition. I was stunned. I learnt more being in the presence of McQueen’s work for a short while than I had done all year whilst researching.
As soon as I first walked in, I felt overwhelmed with an emotion that I could never put into words. I got a lump in my throat. I was almost brought to tears on more than one occasion. I learnt a lot about creativity during my time there as well as an incredible amount about myself. The fact that his work could evoke such emotion is a testament to his sheer talent. The clothes spoke for themselves and were some of the most beautiful works of art in existence.
There are many ways to describe McQueen. He was a pioneer, anything but predictable, he had a filmic vision and was truly unique.
Above all, let me tell you all that you need to know. The fact that we live in a world where difference is still sometimes seen as negative is a perfect example of why we need people like Lee McQueen in the world.
I have put together a list of some of Lee McQueen’s quotes for anyone who feels as though they have a little dent in their creativity. I hope it helps.
“You never move forward if you play it safe.”
“There comes a time in your life when you focus on what you believe is right, regardless of what everybody else is doing.”
“If you don’t have passion for something, you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
“Of course I make mistakes. I’m human. If I didn’t make mistakes, I’d never learn. You can only go forward by making mistakes.”
“I think there is beauty in everything. What normal people would perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it.”
“I never look at other people’s work. My mind has to be completely focused on my own illusions.”
“There isn’t anyone doing anything like I do. It’s taken me fifteen years to realise that.”
“There is no better designer than nature.”
“I came to terms with not fitting in a long time ago. I never really fitted in. I don’t want to fit in. And now people are buying into that.”