A blue plaque is to be unveiled to mark the place where Alexander McQueen, the most celebrated fashion designer of his generation, grew up in Newham, east London.
The unveiling is part of a series of events during Newham Heritage Month that will honour the late fashion icon in his home borough for the first time. Along with the plaque unveiling will be a celebratory screening of the Bafta nominated documentary ‘McQueen’ where director/producer Ian Bonhôte will take part in a Q+A with McQueen’s nephew, artist Gary James McQueen.
Known to his friends and family as Lee, McQueen (1969 – 2010) began his sartorial journey at a tailoring course at Newham College and was supported by Newham arts organisation Rosetta Arts. Lee Alexander McQueen’s designs, blending creativity with exceptional technical skill, led to a glittering global fashion career and an array of accolades. Awards included British Designer of the Year four times between 1996 and 2001 and a CBE for services to the fashion industry, as well as International Designer of the Year in 2003.
Celebrities including Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bjork and Lady Gaga have all worn his designs and the McQueen brand continues to be the label of choice for Michelle Obama, Eddie Redmayne and Beyoncé. Notably, Catherine, Princess of Wales opted for Alexander McQueen for both her wedding dress and the Coronation. The iconic fashion designer, who grew up in Stratford in Newham, will be honoured with the new plaque to be installed where he lived in Biggerstaff Road - the first tribute to the designer in his home borough.
The unveiling will take place during Newham Heritage Month - a month-long festival of heritage events that sees thousands of local residents participate in art and textiles workshops, live theatre, comedy, food tastings and more, all of which are organised by Newham’s community. The installation of the plaque will be led by Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, at 5pm on 30 June and attended by members of the McQueen family.
In a separate event at Stratford Town Hall on 8th June, Ian Bonhôte, Director and Producer of acclaimed documentary McQueen, will be in conversation with McQueen’s nephew, artist Gary James McQueen after a celebratory screening of the film, alongside a sneak peak of the plaque and a pop-up exhibition of previously unseen photos of Lee Alexander McQueen’s life in Newham from the family archive. The McQueen heritage project is the brainchild of Newham-based Journalist and Creative Director Neandra Etienne who has already established blue plaques for stars with links to Newham, such as rock icon Jimi Hendrix and footballer Jack Leslie.
Neandra Etienne, Journalist and Creative Director, said: “I am pleased that this project will finally acknowledge Lee’s Newham heritage. I especially want local residents to know about Lee’s life growing up in Newham. I am hoping that Lee’s achievements and continued contribution to the fashion industry, will inspire people to achieve their own success beyond their wildest dreams.”
Gary James McQueen, Nephew and Artist, said: "Newham played such an integral part in Lee's early life so I know how much he would have appreciated this blue plaque in honouring that fact." Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, Mayor of Newham said: “We are proud to honour the late Lee Alexander McQueen CBE, one of the most celebrated creative talents in the UK, whose genius and craft set the fashion world ablaze.
“Newham is home to such outstanding creative talent and Lee was amongst the very best of them. His genius continues to inspire creatives in Newham and around the world and it’s a testament to him that he is being celebrated in our borough through this blue plaque.”
Ian Bonhôte, Director and Producer of ‘McQueen’ said: "I am extremely excited to be part of this event with Gary. Lee McQueen’s legacy can still be felt to this day and it was one of the greatest honour of my career to make a documentary about his life."