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Only slightly fatigued by jet lag and a night of clubbing, Alexander McQueen takes time out at 44 to sip a cappuccino and chat about his rapid fashion ascent.
After a few seasons of staging the most hyped-up fashion events in London — his current collection of ripped lace dresses and military-inspired looks came down the runway in an 18th-century church — the 27-year-old British designer is in town to show off his fall collection.
"New York has this very brash image," McQueen says, "but then the clothing is so conservative. I think it's good to bring a little excitement to New York fashion week, because it always has a lot of buzz around it because of the celebrities and everything, but it doesn't really measure up in terms of the clothes. I want to bring a little more spectacle to New York, a little more oomph."
In London, some thought there was too much oomph.
"...After the show, they started faxing us, saying, 'Your show was too perverse. We want some money for the perverseness. You showed too many bare breasts.' But we didn't show any. Well, maybe a couple through some sheer clothing, but there was nothing hanging out. That shouldn't cause a stir, anyway; I mean, everyone's seen them before."
"Well, I don't really play the game as much as some people do," he says. "I know Gaultier quite well, and he's quite good at it, and I know Galliano does it, but I'm more personal. I can do the parties and things like that, but it really depends on how you classify a wild child. What do you expect me to do — go and spit in Anna Wintour's face?"
"It's intelligence, really," he says. 'I have to make a living from what I do, so there's a part to the collection that's more ready-to-wear with jackets and trousers and alpaca coats. Then you have the more avant-garde part that's more about innovation and design. But I never want to design things that no one can wear."
But as for anti-fashion? "That's not my kettle of fish," McQueen says. "I'm like a totally new kettle of fish. The clothes should be exciting, not just another dress that you can buy anywhere. If something is going to cost you that much money, it should be something special that no one else is wearing."