When Alexander McQueen committed suicide in February 2010, aged just 40, a shocked world mourned the loss of its most visionary fashion designer.
McQueen had risen from humble beginnings as the youngest child of an East London taxi driver to scale the heights of fame, fortune and glamour. He designed clothes for the world's most beautiful women including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. In business he created a multi-million pound luxury brand that became a favourite with both celebrities and royalty, most famously the Duchess of Cambridge who wore a McQueen dress on her wedding day.
But behind the confident facade and bad-boy image, lay a sensitive soul who struggled to survive in the ruthless world of fashion. As the pressures of work intensified, so McQueen became increasingly dependent on the drugs that contributed to his tragic end. Meanwhile, in his private life, his failure to find lasting love with a string of boyfriends only added to his despair. And then there were the dark secrets that haunted his sleep…
A modern-day fairy tale infused with the darkness of a Greek tragedy, Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin is soon to be adapted for film, directed by Andrew Haigh (45 Years). This book tells the sensational story of McQueen's rise from his hard East London upbringing to the hedonistic world of fashion. Those closest to the designer - his family, friends and lovers - have spoken for the first time about the man they knew, a fragmented and insecure individual, a lost boy who battled to gain entry into a world that ultimately destroyed him.
Journalist Wilson (Mad Girl's Love Song) presents a thorough and emotionally compelling exploration of the life, work, and inner demons of fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Wilson recounts McQueen's childhood in East London, where he was sexually abused by his brother-in-law. The abuser also battered his sister, Janet; McQueen admired her fortitude, and she was his earliest and most prevalent muse. Wilson follows McQueen through the early stages of his career, including a short stint as a tailor's apprentice on Savile Row and his education in fashion design at London's Central Saint Martins, where he staged his first show, "Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims," in 1991. It was followed by the show "Nihilism," which saw the debut of McQueen's now signature "bumsters" look. Wilson paints vivid portraits of McQueen's family and friends, including his lifelong friend BillyBoy and stylist Isabella Blow, whose death, along with the death of McQueen's mother, contributed to the decline of his mental state leading up to his suicide. Interviews with friends, family, and former lovers allow Wilson to capture McQueen's many facets, from his "cackling fishwife laugh" to his dramatic shifts in temperament and "near-pathological obsession with the macabre," making this a fully realized representation of a complex and enigmatic artist. Photos.