Yesterday, the 11th February 2010 was a strange day of mixed emotions. A fashion genius passed away on the very day that Nelson ‘Madeba’ Mandela walked to freedom from his incarceration 20 years ago. I am old enough to remember that day, yet was too young at the time to truly understand its significance. My heart and soul felt it without me realising. My heart and soul felt it when I heard about Alexander McQueen. Two total strangers who have made an impact on my life.
My mind raced back and forth, full of random thoughts…..that Mandela and McQueen have real similarities – echoes in their characters. They were/are historic trailblazers, breaking down boundaries with the courage to stand up for what they believed in. Both were revolutionaries and revolutionary. Mandela, in his lifelong quest to banish social injustice and to free humankind’s hearts and minds. McQueen, in his lifelong quest to change the art of fashion and free its hearts and minds. Mandela changed the face of history. McQueen changed the face of fashion history, both succeeded with passionate rebellion! They were born to do it.
At some point that day, James Brown’s song “It’s a man’s world, but it wouldn’t mean nothing! Without - a woman or a ga-irrl..” filtered through from the next door neighbour and immediately Winnie (Mandela’s ex wife) and Joyce (McQueen’s mother) sprung to mind as well as the words strength and support.
Over the years they were given so many labels to define ‘who they were’; controversial, terrorist, bad boy, rebel, enfant terrible. In my eyes, McQueen was, in all his glory, a modern day Vivienne Westwood and an Avant Garde Valentino and Mandela, a JFK, Gandhi, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King rolled up in one.
I feel sad that a rare talent is gone so soon. McQueen’s creations will always show us that it’s ok to be different, a leader and a free spirit. A smile then comes to my face when the song “Freeee Nel-son Mand-del-laaa” plays around in my head..ummm a strange day indeed…
From them, there are many lessons we can learn, they have shown us all to live an imperfect and brilliant life – one that is truly and only ours.
The difference I do see is that all the tribulations Mandela has lived through he appears to have 'cleansed' himself of the inner and outer demons in his life. It could be said that McQueen possibly did not. Tragedy always brings about change but we must not forget so does Joy.
King Nelson – A true, honest, global king of humanity and equality and King Alexander – A true, honest, king of global fashion and art. Karma-Style salutes and celebrates you – Thank you for the inspiration.
© Karma-Style 2010