The complexity and brilliance of Alexander McQueen remains as incomprehensible now as it was forty years ago, when the young designer produced his first collection. He was fashion’s dark prince, his work initially labeled cruel and offensive by the press. He never cared. In fact, he thrived on provocation and contradiction. He made exquisite gowns and then defaced them, as an aesthetic choice. He made women beautiful, but also terrifying. He created clothes that were meant to be felt, as much as seen.
In Alexander McQueen: Unseen, a comprehensive portfolio of rarely seen images, we watch McQueen evolve through the lens of photographer Robert Fairer, who followed the designer closely from the very beginning ($51; amazon.com). Working mostly for Vogue, Fairer captured 30 of McQueen’s 36 legendary shows, documenting both the catwalk and the chaotic backstage. “Robert’s images capture the raw energy and powerful emotion in those moments leading up to Lee’s incredible shows,” explains Sarah Burton, one of McQueen’s closest collaborators and now the creative director of his label. “The intensity and focus, the stress, and excitement are all palpable.” Catch a glimpse of Fairer’s photos below, and revel in seven of McQueen’s most memorable collections.