Alexander McQueen brand was founded by designer Alexander McQueen in 1992. It was by the suggestion of Isabella Blow that McQueen use his middle name for the label. The house’s early collections developed its reputation for controversy and shock tactics (earning the title “l’enfant terrible” and “the hooligan of English fashion”), with trousers aptly named “bumsters” and a collection entitled Highland Rape. Alexander McQueen staged lavish and unconventional runway shows, such as a recreation of a shipwreck for his Spring 2003 collection, Spring 2005’s human chess game, and the Fall 2006 show, Widows of Culloden, which featured a life-sized hologram of supermodel Kate Moss dressed in yards of rippling fabric. In total, McQueen designed 36 collections for his London label, including his MA graduate collection.
During his time as head designer, McQueen was awarded the title “British Designer of the Year” four times between 1996 and 2003; he was also appointed a CBE and named International Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers in 2003.
In December 2000, the Gucci Group acquired 51% of his company and appointed him as Creative Director before launching stores in London, Milan, New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. On 31 October 2011, Alexander McQueen opened its first store in Beijing with a runway show. Following the take over, the brand’s catwalk presentations were relocated from London to Paris, beginning with the Spring/Summer 2002 collection with The Dance of The Twisted Bull on 6 October 2001.
Alexander McQueen launched its first menswear collection in Spring/Summer 2005 and continues to show its collections during Milan Fashion Week. The company launched its first women’s pre-Spring collection on the runway with its men’s collection on 22 June 2008 and has since continued releasing cruise collections since Spring 2010.
Alexander McQueen launched an online store in the US in 2008. This was later expanded with an online store for the UK market in 2010.
McQueen’s suicide was announced on the afternoon of 11 February 2010. At the time of his death, the company had debts of £32 million despite posting profits from handbag sales in 2008.
On 27 July 2006, the company launched a lower-priced diffusion line McQ. The new line carries men’s and women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, was exclusively designed by Lee Alexander McQueen, manufactured and distributed worldwide by SINV SpA under the terms of a five-year licence agreement with Alexander McQueen. Promoted as a denim line, the focus of McQ is a youthful target market. The Spring/Summer 2011 was the final collection in collaboration with SINV SpA. Pina Ferlisi was appointed as the creative director for the line in June 2010.
Following the expiration of the contract with SINV SpA with the Spring/Summer 2011 collection, the brand announced on 11 October 2010 that it would take control of the McQ diffusion line by creating a new internal team with the creative direction of Pina Ferlisi, under the leadership of Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton. For the first campaign for the re-acquired line, photographer Niall O’Brien collaborated with McQ by driving across the American Northwest capturing images, which evoked the McQ attitude.
In August 2011, the company announced it would launch its first McQ standalone boutique in London in 2012. In November 2011, it announced that McQ would be presented at London Fashion Week for the first time in February 2012, and that the new four-storey Georgian townhouse boutique will stock womenswear, menswear, and accessories.