Actually, while it is correct that it was his portfolio and references that got him a place on the famed CSM MA, you’ve left out the back story. From Wiki:
McQueen returned to London and applied to Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, to work as a pattern cutter tutor. Because of the strength of his portfolio he was persuaded by Bobby Hillson, the Head of the Masters course, to enroll in the course as a student.
By the by, it is worth noting that CSM does actually state re: Minimum Entry Requirements that:
An applicant will be considered for admission who has already achieved an educational level equivalent to an Honours Degree. Normally applicants will be expected to have achieved a First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degree in Fashion Design, Knitwear or Printed Textiles with a strong fashion bias.
This educational level may be demonstrated by: Possession of the qualifications named above; Possession of professional qualifications recognised as equivalent to an Honours Degree; Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be demonstrated to be equivalent to the formal qualifications otherwise required, or; A combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning which, taken together, can be demonstrated to be equivalent to the formal qualifications otherwise required.
BUT even then (and possibly because the competition is something like a thousand applicants for 50 places), its selection criteria is:
Applicants to Womenswear Fashion, Menswear Fashion, Knitwear for Fashion and Textiles for Fashion are selected on their ability to demonstrate through a portfolio containing a minimum of four projects:
A strong personal identity; Extensive research and rough work; Technical skills; 3-dimensional sense; Visual interpretation skills; Sensitivity to fabrication and colour.
The interview / portfolio review for all pathways (for applicants selected following submission of the application form, personal statement and supporting work in the form of a portfolio of work) is used to evaluate the extent to which you demonstrate:
Potential to benefit from the course; Reason for choosing the course; Communication skills; Motivation and commitment.
Taking nothing away from the genius of McQueen, but IMO anyone who even gets into CSM MA fashion has already managed a ‘feat’ few others will ever be able to share.