Thursday, 11 March 2010

Alexander McQueen: A Month On, the Future of the Label

It is exactly one month ago today since the news of Alexander McQueen's death. In that time there have been outpourings of grief and much speculation about the future of the McQueen label. The Gucci group have issued a statement saying that the label will continue but, not surprisingly at this stage, have given no details. These are perilous days for the future of Alexander McQueen's label.

The major problem is what could be called the Margaret Thatcher–Tony Blair fall-out factor. It is a quirk of history that powerful figures almost always leave a strong after-wave when they are no longer in power … or even alive. It is the old principle that small trees cannot thrive in the shade of big ones. After any strong character falls, there is confusion while weaker ones vie for the leader's crown. In the case of a politician we end up with an interregnum until a party regroups and finds itself a new leader. But creativity isn't like politics. Whereas policies are always able to change, the creative zeitgeist of a designer label is the sprit of one man or woman, and it is very hard to change it.

We all remember how hard McQueen found it at Givenchy – he left rather than remain in an artistically alien role. The same awkwardness is now hovering over his own label. Gucci want it to continue, presumably with McQueen's team. But a team without a leader can never retain the spirit of the original. So, does Gucci find a young talent to take McQueen's place? Perhaps the question should be, what young designer would take on such a poisoned chalice that will almost certainly end in failure? It is hard enough to take on a long-dead fashion name, but one whose memory is so vivid seems impossible. Who would want to be compared with Alexander McQueen, knowing that he or she will always be found lacking?

I can think of only one possible name. Gareth Pugh alone has the right spirit and aesthetic to give it a try. But why should he take the risk?


  1. I agree wholeheartedly. Whoever takes over at McQueen will never live up to the name. What if they change the design aesthetic too much? What if they verge too much towards the main stream edge of conservatism? If McQueen had made those choices himself, that direction would be acceptable; if a new designer chooses to make them, he/she will be rubbished by the industry.

    As you rightly said, why should Gareth Pugh take the risk? Will his name disappear into oblivion, swamped by the enormity that is McQueen? An aspiration of his must be to one day have his own, self-titled label. Would that be off the table once he was associated with McQueen?

    The main problem is, no one will ever match up to the reputation and creativity of McQueen under the label "McQueen" Now that Alexander McQueen has passed away, it is almost an impossible task. Feelings and emotions are still running high and people's admiration and appreciation of his work has soared. No one else will ever be "McQueen" in the eyes of the public and despite that not being the new designer's agenda, that is who he/she will be perceived to be emulating.

  2. It's really sad that McQueen himself didn't think of these issues before taking such a drastic step, about all those employees who must be left directionless now! In this context I must bring up one more sad event.There was a retrospective of McQueen's life shown on FTv in India, which apparently had some topless women featured.Instead of understanding the importance of the designer or the proper context, the Indian government has banned Ftv for 10 days stating that it denigerated women! I feel this is a great insult to the designer himself and a pretty sad thing to happen in such a big country? Will anyone please educate the stubborn dogmatic horse with blinders on people at the Information and Broadcast Bureau of India, that topless women don't always equate to vulgarity and McQueen of all the people shouldn't be condemned of this crime!

  3. The loss is too raw, I get teary every time I see an image or read about him. But time heals and I agree, these are almost impossible shoes to fill. But if anybody can understand the dark world in which McQueen dreamt from, it would be Gareth Pugh.

    In his latest collection, he has proved to be able to do whimsical and beautiful, with an edge.

    I hope he does take the opportunity to channel McQueen. I'm very curious of the outcome.

    It could surprise us all.

  4. The brand could continue with the existing creative team just like they are doing at Margiela at least for a while this could work.
    Gareth is amazing; does anyone remember him in Fashion House? Its amazing how he’s aesthetic was so strong even then.