Alexander McQueen’s letter after Romeo Gigli

I recently moved back to California and amongst my belongings that were in storage for 25 years, I found a letter from a friend I made in 1990 while working at Romeo Gigli in Milan. That friend, was a very shy guy from London, but he clarified during our first lunch together that he was from South London. I could barely understand his accent, because I had my own Mexican accent. What brought us together was his tooth ache. I was sitting in my desk on a sunny Milanese day ( the Italians are so good at making work environments beautiful, but I remember the sun because Milan is overly grey during the year), this guy was shown a desk in the middle of the studio to work on a pattern, and he kept holding his cheek in what I thought was pain… I introduced myself and asked if he was ok, he immediately said that he had a tooth ache, so I offered to find an aspirin, and our friendship was born… I would manage to check on him if he understood instructions and explain how the office worked, but pretty soon we were gossiping about the office big wigs. I though he was adorably shy and funny. He would explode into laughter at the stupidest things, and he was contagious!
My friend Lee was chubby with loose clothing and always had a sweet smile with a wink included. But he always wanted to promote the idea that he was tough and made references to South London (which I had no clue, because I had never been to the UK) but he made it sound really cut-throat and tough.
Just reading his letter made me think of how often he shared his vulnerable side… financially and shelter-wise (it was cheaper to live with his parents) while going for his masters degree at Saint Martins… not even imagining that his big leap was just a year away. Even mustering that he wasn’t sure that he wanted to continue in the path of fashion, but instead wanted to travel to North and South America!
This letter fills a huge gap in the perception that he was a rebel. I see instead, a designer making ends meet while holding his vision of a type of beauty and developing the skills to attain it.
On our last hang out he mentioned that he didn’t know where he was going, but that I could always contact his mum. The one person that he could count on unconditionally!
This is my friend, a beautiful soul that left a void in my heart.
I share this letter with the intent that those of you that hit a wall, remember that even Alexander McQueen thought about quitting fashion.

Carmen Artigas

PS, to read the letter below, click and enlarge with command +


Carta Lee


Assistant Designers ElementsLee & Norio, Romeo Gigli showroom