London—Top fashion icons, editors and celebrities, along with 1,500 guests paid tribute Monday to late designer Alexander “Lee” McQueen at a memorial service at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Many observers and British press commented that the service would have done McQueen proud—“it had all the theatrical drama, raw human emotion, heritage, ecclesiastical splendor, and beauty that characterized his catwalk shows.” In fact, Sam Gainsbury, a longtime show producer and McQueen’s friend, also produced the service, which attracted fashion notables ranging from Anna Wintour, Sarah Jessica Parker, Naomi Campbell–a virtual who’s who in the fashion industry.
McQueen, known as an enfant terrible for its outré designs and fashion shows, committed suicide at age 40 in February, only days before London Fashion Week. His memorial service was scheduled during the Spring 2011 London Fashion Week and many guests came wearing his designs: “some wearing tartan, feathers, ‘barnacle shoes,’ chrome-yellow-dyed hair, Edward Scissorhands-tailoring, studded pillboxes, and sequined T-shirts.” The Telegraph reported the service “had sense of the marvelous and the macabre which McQueen adored.”
‘Marvelous and Macabre’
Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue who spoke at the service, praised McQueen, saying “he showed us that everything was possible, dreams could become reality. But he left us with an even more exceptional legacy, a talent that soared like the birds of his childhood above us all.”
Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, added poignantly that “McQueen had an unparalleled vision of the future dragged down by the demons of his past.”
In addition to speakers including jewelry designer and runway collaborator Shaun Leane and friend, Annabelle Nielson, singer Bjork, wearing McQueen “angel wings” and an ostrich feather dress, performed “Gloomy Sunday,” a song recorded by Billie Holliday in 1941. Other performances included a piano solo by the film composer, Michael Nyman, who played music from the award-winning movie “The Piano.”
Among the notables seen at the memorial were: Francois-Henri Pinault, ceo PPR, the French luxury good conglomerate that owns the McQueen label under its Gucci Group umbrella; designers Stella McCartney, Hussein Chalayan, Antonio Berardi, and Pam Hogg; Daphne Guinness; Julia Delves-Broughton, the sister of the late, Isabella Blow, the English fashion icon who “discovered” Alexander McQueen at his graduate show; Carine Roitfeld, the editor-in-chief of French Vogue; models Kate Moss, Stella Tennant and Karen Elson; Bobbie Gillespie, lead singer of Primal Scream; singer Sharleen Spiteri; Philip Treacy; the stylist Judy Blame; Cathy Horyn, fashion editor of The New York Times; and the Dazed & Confused publisher Jefferson Hack.