Alexander McQueen autumn winter 2008, Paris, March 2008
It is such an understatement to say that Fashion will be suffering a great loss at the death of Lee McQueen, his contribution to the driving force of style is undeniable, but much more than this his flair and showmanship meant that my work in photographing from the pack was not only easier but enjoyable. So much of what is sent out on the catwalk though professional and competent, lacks the ability to even surprise it's audience. By contrast I can't remember a single presentation of Lee's Alexander McQueen collections that didn't outright thrill me.
McQueen must have understood that if you wanted to share a good idea in the chaotic and crowed arena that catwalk circuits were becoming in the mid 1990s when he launched his career, you had to first make sure everyone was listening. His early shows despite the obvious lack of financial backing grabbed the attention he needed, not by coaxing or fawning, but by slashing through all the comfortable conventions the industry was slipping back into.
He sent his clothes out on women as well as girls, sometimes they were bald, sometimes pregnant, and if the clothes themselves were not challenging enough he showed them in dark seedy environments to underline your discomfort. Despite this dark side it was always in the mix to see truly remarkable and uplifting beauty. His 'bad boy' reputation sometimes meant that this beauty was overlooked in favour of a more shocking headline, but as his artistry matured the overriding vision shining through was of enchanting grace.
His genius didn't go unrecognised and it was not long before money followed to feed his ambition and our anticipation for the biggest event on the catwalk calendar. There were other highly commendable shows of course but it was McQueen who brought us the super spectacle, a fitting environment to present his giant vision.
The journey I have shared along this enthralling path can be seen in the amazing stream of visual treasure that Lee McQueen left in his wake.