September 2 2014

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Tim Blanks On Alexander McQueen’s London Memorial Service


“There was no comfort zone with Alexander McQueen,” said Anna Wintour during her address at the designer’s memorial service in London this morning. But you’d imagine that even someone as intractable as Lee McQueen would be able to draw some succor—spiritual at least—from the chilly magnificence of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the venue for the event. If your soul didn’t soar when organist Donald Hunt sent Barber’s Adagio for Strings swelling into the cathedral’s mighty dome, maybe you haven’t got one.

There were plenty more soul-stirring moments, from the poignant memories of McQueen’s close friends Annabel Nielsen and Shaun Leane, to Michael Nyman’s performance of his theme from The Piano, to the London Community Gospel Choir’s exultant “Amazing Grace.” But nothing could match the perversely pulse-quickening (we were in church, after all) impact of Björk’s elegantly spare rendition of Billie Holliday’s “Gloomy Sunday.” She was dressed in a McQueen flight of fancy, the wooden wings from “13,” his unforgettable girl-and-the-robot show. Among the many others in the 1,500-strong crowd wearing the designer’s clothes, Naomi Campbell and Daphne Guinness (pictured) were especially striking.

Sam Gainsbury, who produced all of McQueen’s epics, also produced this sendoff. Her years of experience with the boy genius paid off in a service whose solemnity and ritual—right down to the solitary piper playing Braveheart at memorial’s end—would’ve pleased the designer. “But where was the punch-up?” Gainsbury wondered later. “There was always a punch-up.” Not in this cathedral.

Photo: Tim Rooke / Rex / Rex USA



  1. jyo_ca says:

    I always appreciate your view, Mr. Blanks. Wish I could have been there in person today.


  2. nikiandromeda says:

    thank so much for the link!, great pictures..

  3. fashionboi03 says:


  4. liselite says:

    For those of us who couldn’t be at the memorial an audio-video of it would be amazing. You are still sorely missed Lee.

  5. lateinwinter says:

    It blows my mind that Michael Nyman’s ‘the piano’ was used. that has been a favorite of mine for the past oh, 18 years. Here I thought no one else had ever heard the significance in that piece.
    Whoever chose that one, thank you….

  6. tr_ro says:

    Wauw thats a beautiful picture!

  7. Chamnan says:

    Lee.. You will always be in our heart.

  8. FashBash says:

    Having had the extraordinary opportunity to work with and produce with Mr. McQueen one of his shows that he did for a luxury retailer in the U.S., I can honestly say that his talent was awe inspiring, and he was one of the most talented designers of our time.

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