In just one year, the darling of the avant-garde has become the Midas of menswear. For the people at Alexander McQueen, this is easy. Fifty minutes before the start of his first menswear catwalk show, and the dressing area is deserted. Lee McQueen (the real name of GQ‘s Designer Of The Year) has adjusted one or two of the outfits in the Milan how space and replaced some of the shoes, but there is no flap. His design team and assistants, used to the insane pressure of his women’s shows (I’ve been backstage at one of those before -I watched people attaching spears to a model to make it look as though her body had been lanced), are nervous in case they have taken their eye off the ball. Fashion shouldn’t be so straightforward.
But sometimes it is: McQueen’s menswear is the hit of the current season. Previewed in the May issue of GQ, it has been selling out since it was first delivered to stores in June. Want the £2,360 embroidered jacket modelled by Bobby Gillespie in our pages? You’ll have to get behind the 25 other men who are on the waiting list. “For my own wardrobe couldn’t find what was looking for elsewhere in the market, so set out to create something completely new,” says McQueen. “Women have always had solid pieces in their wardrobes – like a great dress or a great suit that they can wear for special occasions – and I felt that men should have that, too.”
In this new collection, on sale January 2005, McQueen has taken the drenched colours of India to make a catwalk show of vests, mirrored capes and military tailoring. The show was a smash, but back at the showroom, it is the excellence of the tailoring (strong-shouldered, fitted yet still generous to the figure) and detail of the finish which demonstrate why McQueen has landed this award.
“I am very honoured to win GQ’s Designer Of The Year,” says McQueen. “On a personal level, my return to menswear this season has been long-awaited. It’s great to know that I have support from the industry and the customers alike.”
A worthy winner indeed.