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Alexander McQueen was a London-based, English fashion designer who was head designer of the Louis Vuitton Givenchy fashion line, before starting his own line.
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In 2000, Gucci bought a 51 percent stake in Alexander McQueen's private company, and provided the capital for McQueen to expand his business. McQueen left Givenchy shortly thereafter. In 2003, McQueen was declared International Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and A Most Excellent Commander of the British Empire by the Queen of England, and won yet another British Designer of the Year honor. Meanwhile, McQueen opened stores in New York, Milan, London,
Las Vegas and Los Angeles. With the help of Gucci's investment, McQueen had become even more successful than he was before. Already known for the flare and passion of his shows, McQueen produced even more interesting spectacles after leaving Givenchy. For example, a hologram of model Kate Moss floated ethereally at the showing of his 2006 Fall/Winter line.
Alexander McQueen was also known for not being shy about his lack of traditional good looks or his lower class background. One acquaintance described that during a first encounter, McQueen was "wearing a lumberjack shirt with the most low-class kind of schlubby-looking jeans falling down with a long key chain...[and was] quite podgy." Another friend said that his teeth "looked like Stonehenge." According to those who knew him closely, McQueen was proud of breaking the traditional mold of a successful designer.
In 2007, the specter of death would come to haunt McQueen, first with the suicide of Isabella Blow. The designer dedicated his 2008 Spring/Summer line to Blow, and said that her death "was the most valuable thing I learnt in fashion." Just two years later, on February 2, 2010, McQueen's mother died. One day before her funeral, on February 11, 2010, McQueen was found dead in his Mayfair, London apartment. The cause of death was determined to be suicide.
Alexander McQueen's rise from lower-class high school dropout to internationally famous designer is a remarkable story. His bold styles and fascinating shows inspired and wowed the world of fashion, and his legacy lives on. Longtime co-designer Sarah Burton took over the still-operating Alexander McQueen brand, and McQueen's contribution to fashion was honored by a 2011 exhibition of his creations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
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In the 1990s, London's artists and cultural tastemakers embraced their British roots. Pop acts like Oasis, Elastica and the Spice Girls dominated 90's music, and reinforced British pride with symbolic use of the Union Flag—Oasis member Noel Gallagher famously used a Union Jack guitar while "Ginger Spice" Geri Halliwell wore the symbol on her trademark, flashy dress. The period was also marked by influential designers like John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, whose unique designs established numerous fashion trends for the decade. Biography.com celebrates these prominent figures, and the many others who led the way for "Cool Britannia."
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Each day, we put on clothes that do more than just cover up bodies. We choose clothes that represent our personalities, our moods, the times we live in, our ambitions and our desires. Who are the people behind the designs we wear every day? These fashion designers who have made fashion a huge industry, and whose work is as controversial, and as influential, as traditional art. These are some of the designers who have dressed the world's most famous people—and are hugely famous in their own right.
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