This past year or so has been a really rough one for the deaths of truly iconic people, and I haven't really commented much on any of them, partly because there are so many and partly because I just didn't feel that I had much to say. There were those that I was sad but unsurprised to see go (Norman Mailer, Irving Penn, Dominick Dunne, Howard Zinn & J.D. Salinger just recently), and the big gone-way-too-soon shockers that nobody seemed to see coming (John Hughes was a big one for me, and, of course, Michael Jackson.)
But when I heard that 40-year-old fashion designer Alexander McQueen had died this morning, I knew that this was one upon which I would have to reflect and work through. I was actually a little surprised by how much it had affected me, and I'm still not entirely sure why it did. Suicide in someone so young and so unbelievably talented is always tragic, no matter who they may be, but I didn't expect the oddly visceral feeling of personal loss that the news brought me.
It's always odd and intriguing to me to see how people react to the deaths of famous people - people they knew in a certain way, people to whom they feel a personal connection, but who they didn't really know. When a person feels really affected there's something proprietary about that, claiming that person and their affects on the world for oneself. That's really how I feel about Kurt Cobain - even though I was only four years old when he died, I definitely feel a sense of possession and even a kind of ownership, a way in which I take him for myself.
And as someone who loves the world of fashion, who believes in the power of its art and artifice, of the creativity and its reflection on the world - and how the world appropriates it back again - I am, in a way, claiming the the innovation and genius of McQueen for my own. Maybe that's why it's hitting me hard - that this is a world I really care about, and know that while other people certainly share that, not everyone does, so there's a kind of necessity of appropriation there. Bottom line, I know that McQueen, and his incredible impact on the fashion world, will never be forgotten.
And I know I will never forget the day of his death, either.