Ok, so clearly I haven't written anything in a while. I've thought of things now and then (possibly will still publish a post on karaoke in NH), but not until Thursday did I really feel I had a need to write again.
I woke up Thursday morning literally with a spring in my step. Which was exciting because I've been in a bit of a winter-in-Lalaland funk. But no sooner did I open my browser than that spring sank straight out of me. I was devastated and incredibly angry when I read the headlines that Alexander McQueen had killed himself. In retrospect, it was refreshing in a way, because I hadn't felt so definitely strongly like that in a pretty long time. I adored his work, his vision, his perception, his courage. And I was incensed that I was now deprived of it. That we were all deprived of it.
I think Tavi's response was succinct and eloquent; and Scott Schuman hit the nail on the head in expressing his regret that followers of fashion had few outlets for their grief. The Times of London and the Guardian did commendable work covering the subject; the brief tribute in images put together by the Times was also clear and evocative of McQueen's spirit in only 11 pictures. But Shuman was right: I was immediately entrenched in an argument with a friend about why the passing of Alexander McQueen was equally as significant as that of Howard Zinn. I was made to feel (well, attempted to be made to feel) that my appreciation was less significant, less worthy, than his. And this comes to the point that most frustrates me. Many people who "do" and don't know his work will flippantly say he was a designer ("do" referring to those people who tweeted about buying his shoes or clothes and RIP). But he was not simply a designer or commodity; he had a spirit (a word I really don't use often) and bravery and vision that transcended fashion. He was an artist to the greatest degree.
The Sartorialist also raises the question of what next. My response was that the line should go on because that was the wish he expressed (in his last interview in the Times he describes people in spaceships above the earth dancing in his clothes). I know that no one would be able to replicate his truly unique strengths, but if we are strong and truly grateful for the people we've known, we attempt to perpetuate some aspect of their work or whatever made them great, in memory of them. Even if we never live up to what they achieved, keeping the spirit alive is meaningful. I'm not sure if I stand by it 100% if it weren't done with integrity it would be a shame and his name really would just be commodified. But I think taking risks and facing massive challenges is exactly what Alexander McQueen was about.
Update: This is a great piece in the NY Times