Lee Alexander McQueen burst on to the fashion stage in 1992 and controversy came with him. It was ironic that a shy and gentle man should soon be regarded as the enfant terrible of British fashion. But though frequently misunderstood he was a creative genius.
With his unique flair for showmanship he’ll be remembered for his lavish and theatrical catwalk shows. His runway extravaganzas have included models encircled in flames, drenched in rainstorms or spun like music-box dolls.
In autumn 1998 double amputee Aimee Mullins strode down the catwalk on carved wooden legs. And his phenomenal spring/summer 2004 show, based on the Sydney Pollack film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, was one of the few fashion shows that I’ve ever seen receive a standing ovation.
But behind the spectacle, Lee was a talented designer with an amazing eye for the pattern cutting that had a huge impact on how we’ve dressed for 15 years.
The daring bumster trousers that he showed as part of his controversial autumn/winter 1995 Highland Rape collection undoubtedly grabbed headlines but they changed the way we wore our waistlines forever.
He silenced his critics by winning the Designer of the Year Award four times and being honoured by the Queen. His staple looks were thigh boots, corset dresses, bondage straps and goat hair coats. In 1995 he was responsible for the resurgence of tartan as a major trend.The things that really stand out for me are his ridiculously high round toe court shoes that I had to order from his store in New York and get Fed-Exed over. And, of course, his 2006 skull motif scarves – I didn’t take mine off for months.
Last year he started the trend for red, white and blue with his God Save McQueen Union Jack collection. Only Lee could pull that off.