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A look back at Alexander McQueen's most influential moments

FashionBy Sunday World
A look back at Alexander McQueen's most influential moments

He was the young designer who took Britain by storm with his iconic designs, and counted supermodels Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell and actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Sienna Miller among his biggest fans and closest friends.

So when Lee Alexander McQueen took his own life in 2010 at just 40 years old, the fashion world was plunged into darkness after the loss of one of its brightest stars.

Now the life and work of the designer is set to be made into movie history thanks to a film helmed by 45 Years director Andrew Haigh.

The feature, of which the title has yet to be released, is thought to be based on the biography of McQueen written by Andrew Wilson, entitled Blood Beneath the Skin. Playwright Chris Urch will be taking control of the script, and will ensure that the legacy McQueen left behind is perfectly portrayed on the silver screen.

McQueen was always determined to gain the best knowledge possible to ensure designs were the most unique and covetable possible. His travels included ventures to Milan, Italy, where he worked for Romeo Gigli, before enrolling at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London to further perfect his art.

There, he was taken under the wing of the late magazine editor Isabella Blow, who was one of the main reasons he decided to set up his Alexander McQueen label in 1992. The brand quickly went from little known organisation to world famous fashion house, with McQueen at the helm. It was the star's haute couture designs, as well as the skeleton print scarves that became a high-street hit, that made him such a success. His skills saw him take home the British Fashion Awards’ Designer of the Year gong in 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2003.

His designs certainly weren’t without controversy, however. It was his Spring/Summer 95 collection that first saw him hit headlines, thanks to the his "bumster trousers” that became one of his signatures. The cut of the pants meant that they barely covered the buttocks – causing a stir in the industry.

Other controversial designs included the armadillo shoes he created, which featured a 12-inch heel. Several models at his Spring/Summer 10 Plato's Atlantis catwalk show refused to don the footwear, but the shoes have now become iconic, with Lady Gaga opting for them in her Bad Romance video back in 2009.

McQueen was keen on changing the face of the fashion industry with his designs. He made history when he sent amputee Aimee Mullins down the catwalk in 1998 – making her the first amputee ever to feature in a runway show.

As well making his own label a worldwide hit McQueen was instrumental in the success of Givenchy, when he worked as chief designer for the label from 1996 to 2001.

But while McQueen's professional accomplishments were piling up, his personal life was suffering blow after blow. Openly gay, he had a civil ceremony with documentary filmmaker George Forsyth in 2000, but their relationship came to an end just a year later. It’s around this time that McQueen is believed to have started taking drugs, on which he built an alleged dependence. His close friend and mentor Isabella committed suicide in 2007, and McQueen said at the time that he was entirely broken by her passing.

“What I had with Isabella was completely dissociated from fashion, beyond fashion,” he commented.

The deaths continued when his mother Joyce died in February 2010 at the age of 75, following a battle with cancer. McQueen was incredibly close to his mother, and was interviewed by her for a newspaper interview in 2004. Asked by Joyce about his most terrifying fear, he replied that it was “dying before you”.

After her passing, a distraught McQueen locked himself away and refused to go out, before he made the devastating decision to take his own life just nine days later – the night before Joyce’s funeral. His body was found inside his flat by his cleaner.

Following his death, it emerged that the Alexander McQueen label had debts of $32 million.

Despite the designer's tragic passing, his designs remain among the most coveted in the world. Sarah Burton, who designed the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, took over running of the Alexander McQueen fashion house in 2010 and said that her vision for the future of the label was “lighter” than McQueen had intended it to be.

In 2015, an exhibition entitled Savage Beauty showcased his most iconic designs, with the show becoming the most popular in the history of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

While McQueen may no longer be with us, it seems his legacy will well and truly live on. And thanks to Andrew Haigh’s upcoming film, McQueen will continue to influence and inspire future generations of designers and fashionistas.

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