Alexander McQueen’s Legacy: Haute Couture And Global Flagship Stores

The brand Alexander McQueen stands out for its meteoric rise to stardom, ensuing its launch in 1992. Notwithstanding its mere thirty-one-year history, it ranks among the top fashion houses of the world and joins the exclusive league of the most established and prestigious haute couture designers of the past century. 

Lee Alexander McQueen, called «Lee» by his inner circle, was one of the youngest designers to earn the «British Designer of the Year» award which he won four times, first in 1996 and subsequently in 1997, 2001 and 2003. In 2003, he was also declared «International Designer of the Year» by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) as well as appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Whilst in the process of launching his own label, McQueen also served as head designer of Givenchy, the Louis Vuitton-owned fashion house which appointed him to succeed John Galliano in 1996 and where McQueen remained until his willful departure in 2001. 

McQueen’s experience in French haute couture craftsmanship combined with his Savile Row apprenticeship background in British tailoring, culminated in his modern and critically acclaimed collections. In 2000, a mere eight years after its founding, the success of the Alexander McQueen brand led to the acquisition by Gucci of a 51% stake in the private company. The investment enabled the label to expand and by the end of 2007, Alexander McQueen boutiques were opened in London, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Milan. The number of boutiques worldwide increased to one hundred by the end of 2020, with growing diversification of the brand from women’s and men’s luxury and ready-to-wear collections to a wide assortment of accessories, and fragrances.

Over the course of his short lifetime and prior to his untimely death in 2010 at the age of forty, McQueen created thirty-six indelible collections and staged runway shows emblematic of his dramatic flair, rebellious disposition, and provocative, audacious vision. The extravagant, theatrical, and at times grotesque displays of his catwalk spectacles, which featured such signature designs as low-cut bumster trousers, coil corsets made of aluminum rings, designer scarfs with skull motifs, and high-heeled armadillo shoes, sealed McQueen’s reputation as «l’enfant terrible» of British fashion. 

McQueen drew inspiration, in part, from the dark side of cinematography and from nature’s wildlife habitats. His use of shock tactics as reflected in many of the titles of his runway shows (Nihilism, Highland Rape, The Hunger, It’s a Jungle out There, The Birds) attracted widespread media attention including criticism for his well-orchestrated horror scenes or seemingly misogynistic portrayals. In March 2010, McQueen’s posthumous last collection was first presented to a select audience during Paris Fashion Week, and in May 2010, Sarah Burton, his longtime assistant, and co-designer, became the new creative director of the Alexander McQueen brand.

McQueen achieved international fame and rock star status within the span of his short life and career. In honor of his contribution to the world of fashion design, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, held, in 2011, an exhibition of his creations.  Later, in 2018, a documentary was produced, entitled McQueen in recognition of his remarkable life and legacy. 

In recent years, SAJO was retained as general contractor to manage the construction of two Alexander McQueen flagships in the United States. The first, located in the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, is a two-floor, 2300 square foot space, the new conceptual design of which was implemented by SAJO in partnership with the client’s architectural team. The second flagship, situated in the Ala Moana Shopping Centre of Honolulu, Hawaii, is the brand’s eighth retail store in the United States. The three-floor, 1900 square foot store, built over a narrow timeline of fourteen weeks, called for SAJO’s expertise in procurement and logistics solutions. 

The growing presence of the Alexander McQueen brand in the American retail landscape attests to the international appeal and irresistible lure of the British fashion house.

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