Thursday, February 11, 2010

McQueen has McQuit.

Designer Lee McQueen (of Alexander McQueen) was found dead today in an apparent suicide.

I often feel that celebrity deaths are blown out of proportion. Maybe it's because I don't completely buy into pop culture, but I have a hard time feeling anything beyond an initial "Wow...really?" when I hear about another "tragic" celebrity death. Of course it's difficult for the families, but no more difficult than it is for any other family going through a personal loss. If anything makes semi-public grieving a harder pill to swallow, it's the paparazzi. Not the loss itself. All human lives end with equal gravity.

For the greater population, the only thing we have the right to mourn, the only thing that gives us the right to tweet en masse about the "tragedy" of it all, is the loss of potential. That I understand. It's the unexpected yanking away of an artist who could have turned out a work with such innovation and power to inspire that we will unknowingly suffer for not having seen it come to fruition. Heath Ledger, for example. Brilliant actor at the peak of his career. Heath Ledger's death was tragic. I realize that what I'm about to say will be controversial, but: Michael Jackson? He was the King of Pop. He changed American music immeasurably. But he lived a life full of self-hatred and public controversy. He hadn't put out a record in almost a decade, and even that was negligible in its musical impact. I would never say that Michael's life wasn't worth commemorating - even celebrating - but that, at least, felt a bit more like how things were supposed to end.

Anyway. I would be lying if I said that McQueen was one of my favorite designers, but as someone who has always applauded people who take risks over people who achieve so-called "perfection" (I mean, my style icon is fictional fashion nutjob Carrie Bradshaw), I think that his loss to the artistic community is a great one. Dubbed l'enfant terrible for his outspoken nature and his theatrical, risk-embracing approach to fashion design, he consistently brought fresh perspective to an industry that largely makes its buck off of recycled ideas. What takes the tragedy of McQueen's death to a whole new level is, of course, its supposed nature. Having dealt personally with losing friends to suicide, I never find the notion of it any easier to wrap my head around.

No one should ever feel like they have no other option.


I don't follow Alexander McQueen closely enough to give comprehensive highlights of his career, but this tulle and tartan confection is always the first thing that springs to mind when I hear his name (that's the designer himself posing with Sarah Jessica Parker). It's a little out there, but without question one of the more memorable red carpet looks of the '00s. If you'd like a bit more insight into McQueen's aesthetic, watch the "Bad Romance" video: Gaga is clad almost entirely in McQueen throughout.

Rest in peace, Lee McQueen. You will be dearly missed by the fashion community. All the best to your friends and family.

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