In order to better understand the Alexander McQueen brand it is helpful to look to the creative director and genius behind some of the most influential fashion of our generation.
Lee Alexander McQueen
17 March 1969 – 11 February 2010
Bespoke British tailoring his tendency to juxtapose female strength and sensuality with fragility in his collections, as well as the emotional power and raw energy of his provocative fashion shows.
Alexander Mcqueen was a British fashion/couture designer. At the age of 16 McQueen dropped out of high school to begin pursuing a career in tailoring. He interned for Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard, before joining Gieves & Hawkes and, later, the theatrical costumiers Angels and Bermans. The skills he learned as an apprentice on Savile Row helped earn him a reputation in the fashion world as an expert in creating an impeccably tailored look.
He is also known for having worked as chief designer at the French Haute Couture House Givenchy and for founding his own label under the name Alexander McQueen.  His achievements in fashion earned him four British Designer of the Year awards (1996, 1997, 2001 and 2003), as well as the CFDA’s International Designer of the Year award in 2003. 
Alexander McQueen’s Haute Couture for Givenchy 2007
The president of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, caused a stir when he appointed McQueen head designer at Givenchy in 1996, succeeding John Galliano. Upon arrival at Givenchy, McQueen insulted the founder by calling him “irrelevant”. His first couture collection with Givenchy was unsuccessful, with even McQueen telling Vogue in October 1997 that the collection was “crap”. McQueen toned down his designs at Givenchy, but continued to indulge his rebellious streak, causing controversy in autumn 1998 with a show which included spraying paint over white cotton dresses and double amputee model Aimee Mullins striding down the catwalk on intricately carved wooden legs. McQueen stayed with Givenchy until March 2001, when the contract he said was “constraining his creativity” ended.
December 2000 saw a new partnership for McQueen, with the Gucci Group acquiring 51% of his company and McQueen serving as Creative Director. Plans for expansion included the opening of stores in London, Milan and New York, and the launch of his perfumes Kingdom and, most recently, My Queen. In 2005, McQueen collaborated with Puma to create a special line of trainers for the shoe brand. In 2006 he launched McQ, a younger, more renegade lower priced line for men and women.
McQueen became the first designer to participate in MAC’s promotion of cosmetic releases created by fashion designers. The collection, McQueen, was released on 11 October 2007 and reflected the looks used on the Autumn/Winter McQueen catwalk. The inspiration for the collection was the Elizabeth Taylor movie Cleopatra, and thus the models sported intense blue, green, and teal eyes with strong black liner extended Egyptian-style. McQueen handpicked the makeup.
A Brand’s Uncertain Future
Can a fashion house succeed without its creator?
PARIS—The sudden death of Alexander McQueen leaves Gucci Group, the parent company of the British designer’s eponymous fashion house, to decide whether it can chart a future for a brand that was inextricably linked to its creator. Mr. McQueen was due to present his fashion collection on Paris’ runway in less than a month.
While the Alexander McQueen fashion house was lauded for its daring designs, its financial performance was less successful. Gucci Group, part of French retail-to-luxury group PPR SA, spent years pushing it to make money, and the company only turned a profit in 2007, seven years after Gucci bought a majority stake in it.
Mr. McQueen’s “creative force was inspiring to me and all those who were fortunate to know and work with him,” Gucci Group Chief Executive Robert Polet said in an email. “He has left us too soon; he had so much more to give, but the legacy he leaves us is a rich one and one that we will cherish and honor.” Gucci Group declined to comment about the future of the fashion house.
Other fashion houses have struggled without their namesake designers. The labels of Bill Blass and Geoffrey Beene, who died after decades of designing, have passed through many owners and designers in recent years without regaining their original status and sales.
In 2000, when his London-based label was just a startup, Mr. McQueen sold a 51% stake to Gucci Group, joining storied fashion houses Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga in a new luxury-goods group. Gucci Group funneled some of the profits made by the much larger Gucci brand into stores for McQueen and other labels. Gucci Group does not break out sales and profits for McQueen.
In its attempt to help the label grow, Gucci Group rolled the McQueen brand out into new product categories. In 2003, the designer launched his first perfume, Kingdom, manufactured by a division of Gucci Group.
In 2007, McQueen turned a profit for the first time, sliding in under Gucci Group’s deadline for the brand to move into the black. But while sales have steadily grown over the years, McQueen has few of its own stores, relying mostly on wholesale sales to retailers. That has left it exposed to the economic crisis as department stores slashed orders.
The launch of a less expensive fashion line, McQ, in 2006, has helped open new doors for the house. The McQ collection was due to be presented in New York Thursday, but the event was canceled after news of Mr. McQueen’s death.
source: wall street journal
Alexander McQueen Business to Continue
Kelly O’Reilly // Friday, Feb 19, 2010
The Alexander McQueen business will be kept on by Gucci Group and its fall 2010 collection will be shown at fashion week, following the untimely death last week of the brand’s eponymous founder and creative director.
For the last decade, McQueen had thrived after Gucci Group bought a 51 percent stake in the company (relieving the designer of his post at rival LVMH as Givenchy’s couturier), expanding the business to include boutiques in 11 cities worldwide, a lower-priced capsule collection, McQ, menswear and collaborations with big brands Target, Puma and Samsonite.
Despite a great deal commercial and critical success, the designer was plagued by a series of personal tragedies and ultimately took his own life abruptly at the dawn of New York fashion week. Questions immediately arose regarding the future of the brand, which in essence was the extension of the man himself, and the McQ presentation scheduled for a New York debut was hastily cancelled. However, just a week later, those at the head of the business indicated that, based on McQueen’s supreme faith in his team and what they believe to be a strong future, they will keep the company alive.
Furthermore, the designer’s last collection will be shown during Paris fashion week at the start of March — an event that will undoubtedly become a poignant memorial for the loss of such bright talent.
PARIS, March 10, 2009
By Sarah Mower
Alexander McQueen may be the last designer standing who is brave or foolhardy enough to present a collection that is an unadulterated piece of hard and ballsy showmanship. The heated arguments that broke out afterward were testament to that. There were those who found his picture of women with sex-doll lips and sometimes painfully theatrical costumes ugly and misogynistic. Others—mainly young spectators who haven’t been thrilled by the season’s many sensible pitches to middle-aged working women—were energized by the sheer spectacle, as well as the couture-level drama in the execution of the clothes.
It was certainly meant as a last-stand fin de siècle blast against the predicament in which fashion, and possibly consumerism as a whole, finds itself. The set was a scrap heap of debris from the stages of McQueen’s own past shows, surrounded by a shattered glass runway. The clothes were, for the most part, high-drama satires of twentieth-century landmark fashion: parodies of Christian Dior houndstooth New Look and Chanel tweed suits, moving through harsh orange and black harlequinade looks to revisited showstoppers from McQueen’s own archive.
The romantic side of McQueen’s character, which rises intermittently in deliriously beautiful shows like his recent tribute to the Victorian empire, was emphatically in abeyance. This is a designer who has drawn so much poetry out of the past, yet this time his backward look appeared to be in something like anger, defiance, or possibly gallows humor. Some of the pieces, like a couple of swag-sided coats, seemed to be made of trash bags, accessorized with aluminum cans wrapped in plastic as headgear.
Nevertheless, however frustrated McQueen may be by the state of commercial fashion, he was not really in absurdist rip-it-up mode. Whatever else is gnawing him, this is a man who will never compromise on construction and craftsmanship. This season, he’d noticeably forgone his typical carapace corsetry, making for slightly easier shapes, like boxy jackets, airy gazar dresses, and a fringed dogtooth sheath. For McQueen’s faithful, there were also fiercely tailored coats, nipped in the waist and picking up on biker quilted leather and big-shouldered silhouettes. Evening-wise—sans the drag-queen makeup—there was a slim, black paillette homage-to-YSL wrapover dress with a red-lined hood that would stand up as elegant in any company.
Ultimately, for all the feathered and sculpted showpieces that must have taken hundreds of seamstress-hours to perfect, this was a McQueen collection that didn’t push fashion anywhere new. Yet that seemed to be exactly one of the things he was pointing to: the state of a collapsed economy that doesn’t know how to move forward.
It could be that Alexander McQueen—oh, and Lady Gaga, remotely—crashed through a whole new frontier in the projection of fashion shows as worldwide live entertainment Tuesday night. McQueen’s collection, Plato’s Atlantis, was live-streamed on Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio.com, intercut with the photographer’s premade video footage. That was the plan anyway, until 30 minutes before the show, Gaga Twittered that McQueen was about to premiere her new single. She has a million followers. Inevitably, before the crashing of the frontier could quite come about, SHOWstudio itself crashed. Which may have replicated, in a whole new audience, the sensation of a young hopeful stuck outside a McQueen presentation, waving a standing ticket and being unable to get in.
Alexander McQueen protege Sarah Burton steals the show
Sarah Burton steals the show in Paris Link to this video It was undoubtedly the most anticipated debut at Paris fashion week. Tonight Sarah Burton presented her first womenswear collection as the creative director at Alexander McQueen. In an extraordinarily beautiful show, Burton succeeded in both being faithful to the late designer’s distinctive design ethos while taking the label into a new era.
As the first model wearing a white tailcoat with frayed edges walked down a catwalk of bare wooden planks with mossy grass poking through the cracks, the audience were in no doubt this was a McQueen show. But as it progressed it became apparent that this was a new, softer McQueen collection. There was none of the angst and aggression of previous catwalks; this was an altogether more feminine McQueen woman. The makeup was simple, the hair was plaited but uncomplicated.
The show celebrated craftsmanship and was inspired by the raw power of nature. Some of the more astonishing show pieces included a structured dress made from hand-painted feather butterflies, a trouser suit made from leather tooled into ivy leaves and a very pagan-looking “corn dolly” dress. Wedge shoes were hand-carved into the shape of butterflies and laquered to look like porcelain.
It was unmistakably the house of McQueen but there were new, more feminine shapes too. Ethereal dresses in layers of organza and printed silk looked bohemian – a departure for the label. Colours were predominately blonde, gold, black and ivory, while exaggerated hips idealised the feminine shape…. (continued)
General Brand/Store Observations
Brand: Alexander McQueen
Location: Meatpacking District
Season: Winter 2010
Price Range: 1,000 – 10,000 +
Black, Red, Gold, Grays, Neutral Tones – Very ornate/ think Vatican.
Urban and layered silhouettes were essential in Alexander McQueen’s final collection. Each piece is structured and novel – new shapes. Pieces are structured and voluminous yet delicate.
Describe the Prints? Describe the Stripes?
McQueen is known to use the skull in his prints and embroideries. He had ordered fabric that translated digital photographs of paintings of high-church angels and Bosch demons into hand-loomed jacquards, then taken the materials and cut stately caped gowns and short draped dresses.
Describe the Yarn Dyes/ Woven?
Hand loomed jacquards, knits, silk.
Describe the Knits?
The knits range depending on garment piece from chunky to sheer. There was a wide variety of luxurious fabric used in the ranges stalked at the AMQ (Alexander McQueen store) –jean, cashmere, jaquards, and delicate knits are among the fabrics used.
Describe the store?
Very clean, modern, bright, and open. The space has a creative flow – almost like an art gallery or museum. Only one to two pieces of each garment are hung. The staff is very professional and helpful. Along the walls are mirrors, displays for his accessories, and blown up images from his final collection viewing (Fall 2010 collection).
Brand Marketing & Identity:
Latest Technology for SS 2010 McQueen broadcasted show live over the internet -collaboration with showstudio were arranged to give his audience a “pure” perspective of the show untainted by commercial industry and media. In this video he explained his perspective of the fashion show. He saw fashion as an art form and entertainment for all to appreciate.
McQueen introduced new ideas on the fashion market, ideas that were controversial, radical, and modern. His designs are feminine and powerful… whimsical and dark. The material he forces on viewers is controversial and wild.
“I want to break new ground in the way the public sees and understands fashion,” McQueen told Women’s Wear Daily, fashion’s top trade journal. “I want to generate something for a wider audience”
”I believe in depicting what’s going on,” he once said. “I’m a big anarchist. I don’t believe in religion, or in another human being wanting to govern over someone else. The themes that go through my shows will continue to.”
Conceptually, this content carries over to the clothes themselves, as a direct reflection, or a sense implied in their “meaning”. But the shocking character is still something that reaches, after the opening impact, to a kind of beauty in genius, a profound expression of craft, magical silhouettes and whacking avant garde statements, literally, figuratively and vocally.
And it’s true that there’s profound depth to the work. So much informs Mr. McQueen’s collections that things get lost or obscured. It’s all overwhelming. And that is the excess that lies in the passion of the work.
“I’ve never been this hard since I’ve been in London,” Mr. McQueen said. “I think it’s dangerous to play it safe because you will just get lost in the midst of cashmere twin sets. People don’t want to see clothes. They want to see something that fuels the imagination.”
By the end of 2007, Alexander McQueen had boutiques in London, New York, Los Angeles, Milan and Las Vegas. Celebrity patrons, including Nicole Kidman, Penélope Cruz, Sarah Jessica Parker and Rihanna, have frequently been spotted wearing Alexander McQueen clothing to events. Björk and Lady Gaga have often incorporated Alexander McQueen pieces in their music videos.
lady gaga in McQueen