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Ann Ray’s The Unfinished – Lee McQueen
“Annabel Lee”Photography Ann Ray

Photographer Ann Ray shares a poignant tribute to friend Annabelle Neilson

The photographer shares a stunning, personal photograph that she took of Neilson, alongside the story behind it

Today, we published a series of candid photos that captured the in-between moments of the late fashion designer and artist, Alexander McQueen’s, catwalk shows. The images were taken by McQueen’s close friend, photographer Ann Ray.

Tragically, while we were preparing this feature, Ray and McQueen’s close friend, Annabelle Neilson, passed away at her London home on 12th July. In honour of her life, Ray asked that we share a photo that she took and pair it with her own poignant tribute to Neilson.

In the image, titled “Annabel Lee” – a play on Edgar Allan Poe’s poem of the same name which they both loved – Neilson stands in front of a gold cloth, which McQueen made for her and embroidered with Poe’s poem.

“Lee and his two soul mates, Isabella Blow and Annabelle Neilson, are together now” – Ann Ray

“I loved Annabelle Neilson as I loved Lee McQueen: like a sister, like a brother. I should say ‘love’, and not ‘loved’, because that kind of love lasts for eternity. Annabelle was planning to see the exhibition this summer, she was so happy about it. ‘So beautiful… Lee would have loved it!!!’, that’s the last message I received from her on July 11th. She left us unexpectedly on July 12th, 2018. Lee and his two soul mates, Isabella Blow and Annabelle Neilson, are together now.”

“I don't believe in coincidences, and neither did Lee” – Annabelle Neilson

After McQueen’s passing, Neilson recounted her last memory of her time spent with her friend – a story which inspired this photograph, taken by Ray:

“I don't believe in coincidences, and neither did Lee.

“I spent the day before Lee's passing at his home. All these flowers had come for his mother, but he hadn't read any of the cards, so he asked me to read them to him, and I did, and I read him some poems. Then I went home.

“Lee and I both loved Edgar Allan Poe's poem ‘Annabel Lee’. I loved it because it was a tragic love story, even though he teased me that I liked it only because of its title. Before he died, he had the entire poem embroidered in gold thread onto a giant piece of cloth for me, which I still have. It’s the most important thing I own. I read the poem at his private funeral after he died. It was the last thing I ever read to him.”