In Memory of Alexander McQueen

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Alexander McQueen in AnOther Magazine A/W04
Alexander McQueen in AnOther Magazine A/W04Photography by Eric Nehr, Styling by Cathy Edwards

We ask the friends and collaborators of Alexander McQueen for their memories of Lee

London is in the middle of a McQueen moment right now. Five years on from Alexander McQueen's premature death in February 2010, Savage Beauty, the record-breaking exhibition that had people battling for tickets and queuing for days outside the MET in New York, is coming to the V&A; two biographies of the designer have been released promising intimate details about his life, and last but not least, the S/S15 issue of AnOther Magazine is dedicated to his world.

In an extraordinary series of stories, AnOther have created a moving and considered celebration of a unique talent – looking back to his roots and staggering career through the eyes of those who knew him best as well as the archive garments themselves; presenting the current S/S15 collection on actress of the moment Léa Seydoux; and pondering the future, in a fashion story starring the sensation that is Rihanna wearing exclusive, custom-made McQueen designed by Sarah Burton. At this thrilling juncture, AnOther looks first to the past, asking Lee McQueen’s friends and collaborators for their memories of the man himself, alongside images from the AnOther archive of the house's creations from the past fourteen years.

Susannah Frankel, AnOther Magazine Fashion Features Director:
“I know this is a huge cliché – and Lee would probably have laughed at me because of that – but meeting him changed my life, made me realise that fashion could be so much more than the sum of its parts. Working closely with him was a huge privilege, both personally and professionally. He was so brave, determined and uncompromising and also so warm and funny. I still think of him often and will do always.

My favourite collection was No. 13. It was also his favourite. I’d worked quite closely with the team in the run-up to the collection – Lee guest edited the September issue of Dazed that same year. Its publication coincided with the show and I helped with the words. The image of Shalom rotating while her dress was spray-painted by robots is probably the most resonant and extraordinary that I’ve ever seen on a runway. More than any other designer, Lee always inspired me and Sarah Burton, so beautifully protecting and upholding the values of the house that he built, inspires me still.”

Katie Shillingford, AnOther Magazine Fashion Director:
"I met Lee McQueen just a few times as a very timid assistant completely in awe of his genius. He was one of the main reasons why I followed a path in fashion but I was always surprised at how friendly he was. I remember looking behind me one time when he called out my name backstage at a show – I was shocked that he would want to stop and say hello to an assistant.

The spirit of McQueen is something that I think runs parallel with what we do at the magazine, to be bold, defiant, challenging and to inspire but always in a beautiful way. We wanted to celebrate all the brilliance of McQueen Past, Present and Future within our S/S15 issue. It was very special to dress the ultra sensual Lea Seydoux in those strong, feminine silhouettes – we’d just found out about her becoming the next Bond girl so in my head I was imagining her as the seductrice, luring in Mr Bond with her feminine wiles but secretly hiding a gun down her cleavage… For me, that’s what’s so brilliant about McQueen past and present – it’s about the empowerment of women, it’s about creating leaders, warriors, defiant strong women, and that’s a wonderful message."

Jefferson Hack, AnOther Magazine Editor-in-Chief:
"Alexander “Lee” McQueen was a friend, collaborator, general mischief-maker, creative rebel spirit, perfectionist and the rarest of all things in fashion: a truth seeker. It was in the mid-90s, at the time of his S/S95 Birds collection, that Katy England – at the time working as his stylist, fit model and creative partner-in-crime – introduced us, and we began to collaborate on special issues of Dazed & Confused. The most memorable is Fashion-able?, Issue 46, which Nick Knight photographed with an incredible mix of sensitivity and empowerment. That most iconic of covers would never have existed without Lee, it was his vision, his idea to bend the boundaries of fashion to such extremes. It was a gift he had to push those around him to achieve impossible things."

Katy England, AnOther Magazine Senior Fashion Editor at Large:
“Working on the archive story has been an incredibly emotional and sentimental journey for me, which I was ready to take. The clothes back in the '90's were all one offs and the best part has been making contact again with my old colleagues from the early days at McQueen discovering what pieces they owned and what they could let me borrow for the shoot. Each precious item brought back so many memories. My amazing history with Alexander McQueen is my favourite thing of the past.”

Alister Mackie, Another Man Creative Director:
“I was very lucky to work with Lee first-hand because it was really the best schooling – watching him in the fittings, turning what sometimes looked like a shapeless sack into an immaculately tailored suit, was really an act of magic. Working on the McQueen shows was without doubt the most exciting experience I’ve had in fashion. Nothing can top the adrenaline of that backstage chaos – never really knowing if we would pull it off. It was fast and dramatic and sometimes turbulent but Lee’s vision was always really clear. He was so demanding and always brought out the best in everybody; sometimes the sights were just so extraordinary that you couldn’t actually believe them. It was such a huge rush. After the show we would regale with stories of all the dramas and disasters! There was a lot of laughter in the process; Lee could be incredibly funny and warm and disarming. In some ways he was the head of an eccentric creative family which was how we all felt about the team, and how I look back on those times. What I learnt with Lee has carried through on all aspects of how I work now.”