Alexander McQueen photographed by Tim Walker
I learned a big lesson from this picture. I haven’t properly met Lee McQueen before and I always thought he had a dark, gothic personality. When you do a portrait, you spent a lot of time researching about that person trying to understand them without knowing them. And you think how can i get to the core of who they are and capture them? We worked with Andy Hilman, the set designer, and we came up with this cross-bone bow tie, and the skull we fitted it to Lee’s head. So basically the skull was supposed to be on his head and he was going to wear the bow tie. And he turned up and I told him what we wanted to do; and you know who you don’t want to force someone into a situation that isn’t comfortable for them because then it’s an irrelevant photograph, because it turns out to be more about you than them.
He tried the bow tie on and he said: “This is crap, I don’t like it. This is awful. I’m not wearing this”. He ripped the bow tie off, took the skull off his head, lit a cigarette and took another cigarette and stucked it in the skull’s mouth and said: “This is how I am, this is who I am.” I think when someone gives you something like that, they are meeting you and revealing something about themselves. This was the last picture taken of Lee and I know that he really liked it. There was the rebellious aspect cause he was a rebel. This picture became particularly significant because he died a week later after this picture. I think is hunts people because of that. Because of the motif of the skull and his youth and his arrogance and his performance and his rebellion.