Alexander McQueen, anti-semitic, crippled with work, Dior, Givenchy, Gucci, Isabella Blow, John Galliano, Kate Middeton, Natal, Paris Fashion Week, Parisian cafe, pressure, Sarah Burton, steven robinson
LOOKING at a fashion designer’s life, it seems like the most wonderful existence in the world. To have the recognition you want, thousands of parties, millions of fans, to be an artist of the best kind, to have every single person in the world affect by the work you do and when you walk down the street, you can see your influence everywhere.
But what happens when the pressure gets too much? When you’re held on a pedestal and suddenly dropped from grace like a stone in water for one mistake, one design. Across the fashion world, it is apparent that the crippling genius behind some of the world’s most beautiful art form can get too heavy for one to bear. In the last year and half alone, there have been two prime examples of this, John Galliano and the formidable Alexander McQueen.
John Galliano, the prince of fashion as it were, has always been an inspiration to other designers. But after his close friend Steven Robinson died of a drug overdose in 2007, Galliano’s life seemed to fall apart bit by bit. In a Parisian cafe in February of this year, a drunken Galliano was recorded ranting at a group of people and making anti-Semitic slurs, including ‘I love Hitler’. The video went viral and sent shockwaves through the start of Paris Fashion Week. An anti-Semitic outburst like this can cost you up to six months in prison in France and Galliano was sacked from Dior immediately. Many people, including Dior spokesperson Natalie Portman expressed outrage at the comments, and Portman boycotted wearing his designs at the Oscars as well as resigning from Miss Dior. His team put it down to severe pressure, stating, “He was put under impossible pressure, not only by the demands made by Dior, but also what he demanded of himself”. On September 8, the verdict for over €5000 of a fine was issued from the French courts but its minute to the dignity he has lost and the credibility he has taken from Dior.
Being the fashion house behind Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, Alexander wasn’t actually alive to see how his protégé Sarah Burton created one of the most famous dresses of our time under his name. The British designer who worked for Givenchy and Gucci before creating his own brand was found dead in his home, aged a tender forty years. Three years after his close friend Isabella Blow and only days after his mother died, the inquest found that he committed suicide. McQueen’s psychiatrist stated that, ”He certainly felt very pressured by his work, but it was a double-edged sword. He felt it was the only area of his life where he felt he had achieved something…usually after a show he felt a huge come-down. He felt isolated; it gave him a huge low”.
To be so famous and to have that much pressure placed on their shoulders was too much for two of the most amazing and talented designers that have ever lived and its consequences were disastrous. It becomes clear to us that no job is without its stress, especially when the world is your critic and the magic that was created by these marvellous men is something to be treasured and basked in, not torn to shreds.