Alexander McQueenBrit designer Alexander McQueen is tearing up Target with his new budget collection, available at the big box retailer and online until April 11. But if you snag one of the punky pieces for your wardrobe, you better check the lining.



Fashion's grown-up "enfant terrible" is known not only for his disdain of celebrity endorsement, but also for one especially piquant insult written inside the jacket of his most famous client.

Lee Alexander McQueen (who decided to use his middle name professionally because he didn't want to risk losing his unemployment checks when he started a business) rose from a working class background through apprenticeships in Saville Row and Italy to become head designer of the Paris fashion house Givenchy at only 27. It was while working at London's bespoke suit-maker Gieves & Hawkes that he committed the act of fashion vandalism that became the foundation of his bad-boy reputation: writing "I am a c---" inside the lining of a jacket being made for the Prince of Wales.

"The press started that, not me," he later claimed of the controversy, somewhat disingenuously. "But I played on it."

McQueen says he learned the art of personality-as-publicity from an early boss, Romeo Gigli, for whom he worked in Milan at age 20. Part of that strategy has involved keeping competitors for attention out of the limelight. He famously excluded Victoria Beckham from his sensational 1999 show because he didn't want to distract from Aimee Mullens, the amputee model whom he sent down the runway on a pair of hand-carved wooden legs.

And last year, at the opening if his L.A. store on celebrity-clogged Melrose Ave, he made it clear that one local who wasn't welcome was Paris Hilton.

"If she comes past the shop, hopefully she'll just keep walking," he told the U.K. Independent. "I don't really covet that sort of thing."

McQueen is no doubt hoping that some of the coin from his McQ for Target line might ease the opening of a planned boutique in that other Paris later this year. But if you buy a piece and find a rude word scrawled in the lining, consider yourself in very good company.