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26 February 2024

A legacy that will shape fashion's future

Gaga is an outspoken admirer of McQueen's work. (SUPPLIED)

By Rachel McArthur

On February 10, American singer Lady Gaga attended the amfAR – American Foundation for AIDS Research – benefit gala in New York wearing Alexander McQueen's popular Armadillo shoes from his Spring/Summer 2010 collection. Cyndi Lauper also made an appearance in a vintage McQueen blazer and trousers.

Tragically, in London – just one day later – McQueen was found dead in his apartment after apparently committing suicide. He was aged just 40.

It is without a doubt that McQueen's death will have an enormous impact on what will be seen on the red carpet in the future. Fashionistas will no longer witness new creations from McQueen's vision on the runway ever.

As news of the British fashion designer's death emerged, Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour issued the statement: "We are devastated to learn of the death of Alexander McQueen, one of the greatest talents of his generation. He brought a uniquely British sense of daring and aesthetic fearlessness to the global stage of fashion.

"In such a short career, Alexander McQueen's influence was astonishing – from street style, to music culture and the world's museums. His passing marks an insurmountable loss."

McQueen dressed the who's who of the celebrity world. Fans included Sarah Jessica Parker, Drew Barrymore, Kate Moss, Sandra Bullock, Anna Paquin, Cameron Diaz and Naomi Campbell.

The eccentric designer's statement-making status on the red carpets has always been high, and at the 2010 Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild, he dressed more actresses than ever before.

According to Hollywood industry insiders, the 2010 Academy Awards won't be affected, because most nominated actresses have already had their gowns for the evening designed. But it will be interesting to see who dons a McQueen creation to honour his memory.

The one starlet who has no doubt been affected by his death more than any other is Gaga – real name Stefani Germanotta – for it is she that brought high fashion to an industry run by pop princesses with her love for his creations.

The morning after his passing, Gaga posted a picture of herself with McQueen on her official Twitter page without comment.

It is well known that the quirky singer-songwriter is an outspoken admirer of McQueen's work and chose to debut her song Bad Romance at his Paris fashion show last October. In fact, Gaga has been nothing short of a walking McQueen advertisement.

McQueen's publicist, meanwhile, called Gaga "an unofficial muse" in recent times. This obviously begs the question of whether this tragedy will change the face and allure of Gaga's outrageous fashion.

The Speechless singer has worn many outfits from the designer, one of the most famous being the red lace see-through dress she wore when accepting the award for Best New Artist during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

One of biggest tributes to McQueen from Gaga, meanwhile, came in the form of her music video for Bad Romance. Scene after scene saw the tiny popstar dressed in McQueen from head to toe; from her opening number gold jacket to the 10-inch skeleton inspired pumps and now-famous 12-inch Armadillo heels.

Sadly, it's not just his fashion on the red carpet that looks to be missed, as analysts predict that McQueen's name will not endure without the designer at the helm.

While other designer brands have managed to outlive their founders – notable examples being Versace and Yves Saint Laurent – it is said that McQueen's business will be difficult to continue as the 40-year-old was very involved with every aspect of the brand.

Additionally, at the time of going to print, Gucci Group, which acquired a 51 per cent stake in the McQueen brand in 2001, had yet to make a statement on the future of the label and its 11 stores worldwide. Robert Polet, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gucci, the luxury arm of Paris-based PPR, said the company wouldn't discuss its plans for the McQueen label at this stage, while mourning the loss of a personal friend and "an inspirational creative force".

For the time being, numerous international media outlets are reporting that retailers are witnessing a sharp rise in McQueen items in the immediate wake of his death, with top sellers including his signature skull print scarf and main line.

Whatever happens, McQueen will be remembered as a designer who an eccentric vision like no other.


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