‘His was the kind of genius that only comes around once in a generation.’ That is what Kristin Knox, ‘The Clothes Whisper’ blogger and journalist turned author, had to say of the legendary sartorial God that was Lee ‘Alexander’ McQueen, at her talk which took place at the V&A on Monday the 16th May.
A memoriam to the late McQueen, the event was steeped in sombre emotion. As Knox read aloud the tale of his melancholy life and fleeting, yet extraordinary career, it was hard not to feel inspired by McQueen’s incredible talent and haunted by the twisted imagination that earnt him the nick name enfant terrible within the fashion industry. As I sat listening intently to the young, New York born Knox, a single spotlight illuminated her face, casting a ghostly shadow across the impressively gigantic domed theatre room, the perfect tone for the story of a visionary who struggled greatly with finding light in the darkness. Here for a moment and gone too soon, the designers demise left the fashion world in a state of shock in February 2010; a talent that was once breathtaking, is now a heartbreaking reminder of a greatness lost. From self-confessed city yob to elite designer, his path was always destined to be a tumultuous one. Perhaps it is so, that that kind of genius is only ever meant to be fleeting, a shooting star that shines brighter than regular stars, if only for a moment, for fear of it imploding.
As Knox closed the final chapter to a rapturous round of applause and an army of McQueen fans filed out of the theatre, there was a bitter-sweet air about the place. I managed to grab a few questions with the author and McQueen enthusiast Kristin Knox, who spilt the beans on her favourite McQueen piece and treasured items of clothing. Racking her brain to choose just one favourite look she flicked through the pages of her first book to reveal page 31, ‘I love this look’ a model clad in taxidermy eagles and a mink feathered skirt, a garment from his Spring/Summer 2001 show entitled ‘Birds’, stands out among the rest for the young fashionista, “See how the shoulder is braided and pulls the fabric, its beautiful’ she pointed out. ‘The Birds’ collection is my favourite collection actually.”
When asked to reveal a treasured piece, the chatty brunette ardently grabbed at the silver serpent pendent that hung decoratively around her neck. The necklace, by McQueen of course, is just one half of her treasured items. The other being a ‘black chiffon circa 2009 McQueen ball gown’, which she is yet to take out of her closet, ‘I was hoping for an invitation to the Met Ball so I could wear it, but it didn’t come, lost in the post’ she laughs jokingly. ‘That’s my most treasured piece; it’s very special it’s my gown.’ And with that she signs my copy of her book, ‘God save McQueen’ and I leave the museum with a new found respect and understanding for a man who’s turbulent mind changed the face of fashion forever; a man who’s genius can never truly be lost. McQueen’s parting gift to the world was the stunning collections he left behind and through them he will be forever immortal.