17 March 1969 – 11 February 2010
Few, if any, modern day fashion designers accomplished so much and accumulated so many credits as Lee Alexander McQueen. In February 2010 you may recall that every major media outlet around the world was carrying stories about this 40 year old designer. Unquestionably, McQueen had become an icon in the fashion industry.
The Early Years
The phenomenally talented designer was the youngest of six children in the McQueen home in northeast London. Did his cab driving father Ron and his mother Joyce, a social science teacher have any idea what an impact their youngest child would make in the world when he arrived in 1969? Did they know that this boy, not known for his scholarly ways in High School would become famous around the world in the fashion industry?
By the time McQueen reached 40 in 2010, he had established his own Flagship Alexander McQueen stores in New York, London and Milan, and had released a number of fragrances and a ready-to-wear line called McQ distributed in 39 countries. Early in his career at Saville Row his clients included the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev and Prince Charles. In more recent times his celebrity patrons included Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Sarah Jessica Parker and Rihanna.
Success and Fame
Over the years McQueen held positions with Givenchy as Chief Designer, and with the Gucci Group as Creative Designer. He was the recipient of many awards and honours including the CBE – Commander of the Order of the British Empire; International Designer of the Year at the Council of Fashion Designer Awards and a four time winner of the British Designer of the Year award. Famous for his avant-garde and theatrical runway collections, Alexander McQueen had become a household name in the global fashion industry.
Too Much Reality – Seek Fantasy
Had all the fame and success brought Alexander McQueen happiness and fulfillment in life? It seemed he used his artistic skills to create a world of fantasy – as an escape from the harsh realities of life. In reference to a pair of shoes he designed, he told New York Times : “I don’t think it makes sense to play safe in these times. The world needs fantasy, not reality. We have enough reality today.” (1)
Views on Death
McQueen’s fascination with death was more than obvious in much of his work. In one interview he said:
I think it’s important to look at death. I think it’s a part of life. I have always been fascinated with the Victorian view of death; where they used to take pictures of the dead. It’s not about brushing it under the carpet like we do today it’s about more like celebrating somebody’s life. I don’t think (death) is a very bad thing; I think it’s a very sad thing; a melancholic thing but I think it’s a very romantic thing, because it means the end of a cycle and everything has an end. I think that the cycle of life is a positive thing because it gives room for new things to come behind you. (2)
Death Knocks on Life’s Door
It is one thing to bravely fantasize or even be philosophical about death but when it comes knocking on your door, it is devastating. On February 02, 2010 McQueen’s mother Joyce succumbed to cancer and from all reports, he was crushed.
According to some, life had already become unbearable for McQueen. So nine days after Joyce died, 40 year old Alexander McQueen, a fashion icon of the 21st century, reportedly used his favourite belt to end his life in his own wardrobe closet at his home in Mayfair. The date was, February 11, 2010. Was this another effort for McQueen to escape reality? But what is more real than death?
Reaction Around the World
The fashion world and many others were shocked. The Editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman called the icon a ‘modern day genius.’ A fellow designer, Katherine Hamnett expressed the sentiment of many in the industry as she joined the outpouring of shock and sadness around the world by saying: “He was a genius. What a terrible, tragic waste.” (3)
Reflections and Lessons for Us
In McQueen’s memory, will you reflect on the big issues of life? Are you also trying to avoid the harsh and often disappointing realities of life by escaping to your little world of fantasy? Maybe you don’t use drugs to escape or frivolously spend your income chasing bubbles that will burst – but you try to escape in other ways.
McQueen was right. It is important to look at death. It is a very real part of life. In fact, it is important to prepare for death – more important to be prepared for death than for any other event in one’s life. He wasn’t sure it was a bad thing but he was sure it was a sad thing.
Death is both a very bad thing and sad thing – if the deceased person was unprepared to meet God. The Bible says:
“Prepare to meet your God.”
In a poignant interview with LOVE magazine published the very week McQueen died, he talked about his big plans to bring his designs to the widest possible public.
“I’m 40 now, but I want this to be a company that lives way beyond me, and I believe that customers are more important to making that happen than press,” he said. “When I’m dead, hopefully this house will still be going. On a spaceship. Hopping up and down above earth.” (4)
Eternity is Forever – There is a Very Real Afterlife
McQueen was making business preparations. Perhaps you too are making great plans and preparing for many things. But are you prepared to meet your Creator? Long after your other plans come to an end, you will be somewhere in God’s eternity – Heaven or Hell without an end.
God’s Amazing Love
God loved Alexander McQueen. God loves you. Don’t even question it. In His written Word, the Bible, He has told us repeatedly He loves us, even if we never reciprocate or love Him in return. Even if we hate Him or deny He exists – the Bible tells us He loves us even when we are hostile towards Him. (Romans 5:6-10).
God loves you. God offers you eternal life through Jesus Christ. God wants to bless you with the absolute and total forgiveness of every one of your sins. He will clean your record completely. He can do this because His Son came down to earth to take the penalty for all sin when He shed His precious blood on the Cross. ‘Christ died for our sins.’ 1Corinthians 15:3. “And the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanes us from all our sins.” 1John 1:7
God’s #1 Desire for You
How much does God love you? So much that He gave His only Son to die for your sins and mine. He wants you to end up in Heaven with Him. He loves you and He wants to enjoy your presence in Heaven throughout eternity. (2Peter 3:9, 1Timothy 2:3-5)
Life is real. Stop chasing empty bubbles. Jesus Christ offers you an abundant life now and forever. (John 10:10). You will not be satisfied until you are right with God. You will not live a fulfilling life until God is welcomed into your life and you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. Without Christ, you will never be in Heaven.
Prepare today. You aren’t prepared to live until you are prepared to die.
“For God so loved the world
that He Gave His only begotten Son
that whoever believes in Him
should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Other Credits: Reuben Stewart, Sussex, NB who suggested and researched this story and prepared the collage header.