A fashion show by Alexander McQueen was never anything less than a spectacle. Whether it was just his innate sense of drama, or the perverse delight he took in shocking his audience of fashionistas, he pulled out all the stops. His half-naked models, their scarcely-concealed buttocks or breasts leaving little to the imagination, would stride or stagger up and down the runway, their make-up lending them the look of feral animals, aliens or escapees from a lunatic asylum. In the days and weeks that followed a show, the buzz became a roar. Little wonder that the great houses of couture wooed him to lend a frisson to their lines, while movie stars and royalty commissioned bespoke designs.
On first glance, his chart doesn’t appear that remarkable. Lagnesh Venus joins Saturn (lord of 4th and 5th) in the 7th house to form two Dharma Karma Adhipati yogas. Venus is ordinary and Saturn is mixed, being debilitated with dig bala. But they are the only two planets in kendras, so they wield an appropriate influence.
Although Saturn is debilitated, it enjoys partial relief by two out of the four possible means: (1) Venus, lord of Libra in which Saturn would be exalted, is in a kendra, and (2) Mars, Saturn’s dispositor, is strong in a kendra from the Moon. Thus, Neecha Bhanga Raja yoga is formed, albeit with moderate power.
In this context, we should be reminded that a crippled limb stabilized by a prosthetic device is still a crippled limb, and will therefore hamper the native. Partnerships, whether personal or professional, were bound to suffer. McQueen was sexually abused in his youth by his elder sister’s husband. Elder siblings are seen through the 11th house, their partners through the 5th. Thus, the perpetrator in this case is debilitated Saturn imposing himself upon Venus, the ascendant lord of victim McQueen.
Another Dharma Karma Adhipati yoga is formed by 9th lord Mercury with 10th lord Moon in the 5th. With a pair of vaishya planets working in concert, this alludes to McQueen’s successful application of his creativity to commercial enterprises, as seen via his prominent roles at both Givenchy and Gucci, the famous fashion houses of France and Italy.
His chart reveals a Papakartari yoga formed by malefics flanking the lagna – a powerful Mars in the 2nd, and Ketu in the 12th. Substance abuse became a problem in his later years, contributing to deterioration of his primary relationships.
Shakata yoga, formed when Moon and Jupiter are in a 6/8 relationship, evokes irregularities in life, sometimes financial, social or emotional, the latter of which seemed to be McQueen’s lot.
The indications for a career in fashion are two-fold: the Raja yoga with Venus and Saturn in the 7th whereby Venus aspects back into the lagna, and a powerful Mars in the 2nd house that rules fashion, clothing, accessories, etc.
If we regard his chart from the perspective of Chandralagna, we get similar indications. Ascendant lord Saturn would occupy the 3rd house of skills with artistic Venus, forming two Raja yogas. Mars would form Ruchaka yoga in the 10th house, reflecting his role as creative director in his field. Jupiter would aspect its own 2nd house, its close alignment with the Rahu/Ketu axis suggesting his inventiveness, rule-breaking tendencies, and substance abuse. And on a personal level, 7th lord Sun on the Rahu/Ketu axis would imply unconventional relationships, which played out in his openly gay lifestyle.
In both the rashi and chandralagna charts, the 7th lord is eight houses away – Mars in the first instance, the Sun in the second – which is some indication of turbulent relationships. In his natal chart he had two distinct passion combinations – a strong Mars aspecting the 5th house Moon, and a debilitated Saturn conjoined Venus in the 7th house. These patterns, wherein the “good girl” planets Moon and Venus are afflicted by the “bad boy” planets Mars and Saturn, are further evidence of an active sex life.
Almost the entirety of McQueen’s professional life was contained within his Mercury dasha, which ran from 1992 to 2009. Mercury is in Shatabhisha nakshatra whose lord Rahu occupies his 6th house of competitive endeavors along with the 11th lord Sun.
He received his master’s degree in fashion design in 1992, and his graduation collection was bought in its entirety by influential fashion stylist Isabella Blow, who subsequently became his mentor, using her fashion sense and industry contacts to help him advance his career.
McQueen used new technology and innovation to add a different twist to his shows. His early runway collections developed his reputation for controversy and shock tactics (earning the title “l’enfant terrible” and “the hooligan of English fashion.” He designed the wardrobe for David Bowie’s tours in 1996-1997, and lent his style to Icelandic singer Björk for the cover of an album and two of her music videos.
In 1997 he was hired by Givenchy where he indulged his rebellious streak. A show in 1998 included a double amputee model striding down the catwalk on wooden legs. Another show featured a model whose strapless white dress was spray-painted as she stood between two robotic paint guns on the catwalk. Yet another show featured an enormous glass box filled with moths, inside of which was a naked model wearing only a gas mask.
McQueen won the British Designer of the Year four times in 1996-2003. In late 2000, the Italian fashion house Gucci took a 51% stake in his company, leaving him with complete creative control. By the end of 2007, he had boutiques in London, New York, Los Angeles, Milan, and Las Vegas. Celebrity patrons included Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Rihanna. Lady Gaga often incorporated McQueen pieces in her music videos.
In 2007 McQueen was devastated by the suicide of his long-time mentor Isabella Blow. This ushered in a very difficult three-year period for him during which, despite seeking psychiatric help for anxiety and depressive disorder, he twice took drug overdoses as “cries for help.”
In the spring of 2009 he entered the dasha of his 12th house Ketu. When his mother died in February of 2010, it was apparently too much for him to bear. Little more than a week later, on the eve of her funeral, he took his own life by hanging. A subsequent coroner’s report indicated that his blood contained a “significant level” of cocaine, sleeping pills and tranquilizers.
Note that bhukti lord Venus gives results for its star-lord Ketu in the 12th house of self-undoing. And although he didn’t die during a Mars period, Mars is a triple maraka, being both occupant and lord of the 2nd, as well as lord of the 7th. Aside from its obvious connection with substance abuse, as a strong malefic in the 2nd, Mars also occupies the middle drekkana of Scorpio. This is a pasha drekkana, wherein “pasha” means noose. This could be taken literally, as the physical means by which death is embraced, or from the viewpoint of karma-inducing behavior, by which substance abuse was the noose that bound him to his fate.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York hosted a posthumous exhibition of McQueen’s work in 2011 titled Savage Beauty, and in its three-month run became one of the most popular exhibitions in the museum’s history. A subsequent 2015 exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum sold almost half a million tickets, making it the most popular show ever staged at that museum.
Alan Annand studied with Hart de Fouw, and is a graduate of the American College of Vedic Astrology. He’s also a former tutor for the British Faculty of Astrological Studies, and the author of several books.
Kala Sarpa is a first-of-its-kind reference book on a unique pattern in jyotish that is not discussed in shastra yet is part of India’s rich oral tradition.
Stellar Astrology, Volumes 1 & 2, offer a wealth of time-tested techniques in the form of biographical profiles, analyses of world events, and technical essays. Parivartana Yoga is a reference text for one of the most common yet powerful planetary combinations in jyotish. His Mutual Reception is an expanded companion volume written for western practitioners, covering the same subject of planetary exchange through the lens of traditional astrology.
His New Age Noir crime novels (Scorpio Rising, Felonious Monk, Soma County) feature astrologer and palmist Axel Crowe, whom one reviewer has dubbed “Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope.”
Websites: www.navamsa.com, www.sextile.com