There was no shortage of drama—or humor—at the grand memorial service for Lee Alexander McQueen, which took place at St. Paul’s Cathedral on a windswept September day in the thick of London Fashion Week. Some 1,200 of McQueen’s friends, family and colleagues, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Daphne Guinness, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Stella McCartney, Hussein Chalayan, and PPR chairman and chief executive François-Henri Pinault, gathered at Sir Christopher Wren’s Neoclassical cathedral for the 70-minute “service of thanksgiving” for the 40-year-old designer, who committed suicide in February.
There were live performances by Björk and the London Community Gospel Choir and tributes from industry ﬁgures and friends, including Shaun Leane, who recalled his ﬁrst encounters with McQueen “hammering away” at a sewing machine in a ramshackle studio, and Annabelle Nielson, who admitted that her friend of 18 years could be “a little tricky.” In her tribute, Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour called the designer a “complex and gifted young man,” who worked out his dreams and demons on fashion’s stage.
“All of it was absolutely ﬁtting, just beautiful, and typically Lee didn’t show up!” said McQueen’s old pal Guinness with a smile from beneath her black veil. She was referring to the designer’s tendency to cancel at the last minute, or pull a no-show. “I was like ‘Lee, where are you? You should be here’,” she said after the service, as the crowd gathered in the sunshine to listen to the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland play on the cathedral steps.
“I wouldn’t have missed this for anything in the world,” said Parker, who was wearing a billowing McQueen cream dress and a rib-hugging black tuxedo jacket. “It was just a wonderful way to remember him. It was just beautiful.”