In 2006 Lee Alexander McQueen CBE established Sarabande, named after the SS07 show, a charitable foundation with the ambition to support the most creatively fearless minds of the future. To date, Sarabande has nurtured more than 200 artists and designers, and supported tens of thousands more through a pioneering public programme of events.
Lee McQueen was born in London on March 17th, 1969, the youngest of six children. He left school at the age of 16 to begin an apprenticeship first with Anderson & Sheppard and then at Gieves & Hawkes on Savile Row in London. After persuading his way onto the MA Fashion Design course at Central Saint Martins, Lee showed his MA collection in 1992, which was bought in its entirety by Isabella Blow. He founded the Alexander McQueen label in 1994 and grew it to become one of the foremost creatively led fashion brands in the world. Lee’s collaborative spirit was essential to the brand’s success. He sought out and invited fellow artists, artisans and creatives to work on collections, shows and campaigns. This merging of skills and visions allowed Lee to continually push the limits of fashion and expand its relevance, artistry and meaning.
Sarabande’s support is offered in three core ways – scholarships to study at top level institutions in London, a subsidised studio programme with bespoke mentoring, and a public programme of on-site events for the wider creatives industries.
Photograph by David Bailey
Sarabande operates from a listed Stable Block conversion in Haggerston, where 15 studios form a creative community with designers and artists from multiple disciplines. Immersed in the hub of East London’s rich creative spirit, Sarabande exudes all that encompasses the creative sphere. The building is home to a plethora of artisans reflecting the multifarious span of Lee’s talent and the variety of craftspeople he worked with his own collections. Amongst others, our tactile artists include sculptors, fashion designers, jewellers, textile designers, painters, performance artists, silversmiths, costume designers, ceramicists, and dancers. Alongside these, Sarabande also houses filmmakers, animators, photographers, digital designers, and visual artists.
Sarabande’s support goes out to beyond those in house and alumni – once a Sarabande artist, always a Sarabande artist. Since 2012, we have been awarding scholarships for students to study at prestigious institutions in London. Successful students are chosen with the input of an industry expert from within the foundation’s network for being fearless in their creativity but lack financial backing. Recent specialists have included Sarah Burton OBE, Nick Knight OBE, Matthew Slotover, Sadie Coles, Jake Chapman and Marina Abramović. The scholarship programme is the backbone of Sarabande’s work, supporting the education of future generations’ most visionary creatives.