12.2.10

bearing witness



I've just come back from Old Bond Street this morning, to the spot where I've shot the same shop windows at various times: reflections of myself against the genius that is Alexander McQueen's creations. Mr. Dot used to ask me, why do I keep shooting these 'self portraits' in shop windows, and I couldn't explain. It just made me happy. I felt like I was connecting with something so joyful: being part of something that came from one mind pushing the envelope of creativity to its max. It was like watching Shakespeare write.

Today, those windows were black.



Yesterday, my husband happened to have passed Alexander McQueen's Old Bond Street store. Flowers had gathered, but the shop windows were still filled with his creations. I headed over there first thing this morning, with the rush hour crowd, on a morning that seemed so dark, somber, and strangely, quiet. People were going to work. Everyone stopped, looked in, honoured the man for a moment in their heart, then moved on.



This is London, and they keep the streets clean, and the flowers were gone. I hope they were taken away by his family and staff, and not swept away. But all that remained were the a scattering of lilies.



They were arranged so beautifully, on the pavement, that I couldn't help but think that Lee would have liked their arrangement. I watched the first people bring flowers, there's time for that, later. For now, I just want to show you what I saw when I first arrived.





There are so many kinds of photographers, who shoot for all kinds of reasons: tourists with camera phones, artists, papparazzi.. and then there are some who come to bear witness.

I came to bear witness, and yet found myself shooting as an artist. I couldn't help myself, I found the light so melancholy, my bare fingers freezing in the rain, and these few lilies that had lingered after all the flowers were taken away.. and I started thinking of how Art begats Art. How a creative being like Lee Alexander McQueen inspired countless other people.. designers, yes, but also us regular people, in how we dress, how we see light and colour and shape.



I found myself shooting the same lily, over and over again, and other people were, too: this beautiful living thing, which had remained on the pavement after the others had gone. In a day or two, it will wither and die, and disappear. But for today, it is alive, and isn't that the whole point of photography, of art? To bear witness and say: this flower once existed. I saw it.

I was here.

Taped to the door, with the writing starting to run like teardrops in the rain, was one note, from someone named Jordan.



Yes, Jordan: he was a true genius. And he will be missed.

20 comments:

maria.maliki said...

R.I.P

the style crusader said...

really beautiful jill. glad you got to be there to witness that and share it with us all. another very appropriate tribute. xx

Sarra R. said...

beautiful!! thank you!

Stylish Goose said...

A beautiful post. I was touched by your words about this great man.

The Photodiarist said...

So so sad. Wonderful post about a great great designer.

J. said...

Your photos are so haunting, so sad. Lovely post.

daisychain said...

wow, this post made me tear up,
thank you for sharing these incredible captures x

the Citizen Rosebud said...

Crap. I'm crying again. Your images are on it, you truly "bear witness" and it shows. Your writing is poignant. Thanks so much for sharing what you do, and why you do it. PEACE.

Vanilla said...

beautiful post, It really is sad, I find these kind of things so hard to talk about but you have done it beautifully, thank you.

Love vanilla

patrick said...

That was so lovely. Thanks for sharing those moments and thoughts. I collected these images together yesterday and wrote a little about how I felt: http://www.adaptcreative.co.uk/2010/02/alexander-mcqueen-a-loss-of-more-than-talent/

Ana Leitora, Ana Reader, Ana Lecteur said...

To someone who does not live in London (in my case)but because of your blog can see how is the atmosphere in the air "Alexander McQueen" fashion loss. Thanks dear Jill.xxx

Ana Leitora, Ana Reader, Ana Lecteur said...

By the way, I think is so YOU the style of pictures shooting these "self portraits" in shop windows :-) keep doing.

Pearl Westwood said...

Lovely post Jill, I am really glad you keep posting. I just read the Sartorialist and have to agree that I too, feel almost angry that something so tragic as this is just not being registered in the 'nonfashion' world. I wandered past Harvey Nic's display (we dont have a McQueen boutique) and I dont know what I expected exactly, but at least some kind of acknowlegement. xx

polka dot said...

Thank you, each one of you who took the time to comment (here and on yesterday's post) - and those of you too shy, or private, to comment, but who might be reading this anyway.

patrick: your tribute really moved me. If anyone is reading this, please check out his post, which I've also linked on the top of my sidebar.

Pearl: I didn't even see the Sartorialist's post until I read your comment. I was very moved, so much so I just left a long stupid comment on HIS post.

This is all quite strange: I don't know where any of you were when Diana died - you might have been just a child, or even a baby - Pearl, were you in the UK? We live right near Kensington Palace, and I photographed all those mountains of plastic with living flowers inside, and thought it was all so surreal. I didn't feel emotionally moved in the slightest.

This is a man I never met but it struck me, reading Scott's lovely post, esp. the p.s.: I, too, just assumed I would. Okay, I feel another post coming on..

TheKiwiBex said...

Beautiful photos and a beautiful tribute...RIP Lee Alexander McQueen.

ArleneJohnston said...

I wasn't going to comment. I read you post earlier and I'm not qite sure why but it made me cry. Then I found myself drawn back. The window logo, the orchid... it's so haunting. Wherever he is, I hope he's at peace xx

Boubou said...

hello dear ! wonderful tribute to alexander !
i still love visiting your blog and see your natural street style photos, keep up the good work !

Bisous from paris,

Boubou

Style Odyssey said...

this is the most beautiful McQueen tribute i have seen, Jill. yes, it made me teary. you've summed up nicely why we are mourning a man most of us never met. he inspired us in ways other than mere dress, that we can be- as you say- "part of something that came from one mind pushing the envelope of creativity to its max."

and your self-portrait in shop windows....please keep doing this. it's become a trademark, like a fingerprint.

hugs,
S.

Soccer Mom Style said...

Not sure how I missed this last year... I'm sure I was reading your posts daily then too...
Anyway, such a beautiful post and that note from Jordan...
xx
maya

songbird said...

this was a heart breaking news!
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