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Since the fashion designer Alexander McQueen took his own life at the age of 40 in 2010, he has been mythologised in a colossally successful exhibition in London and New York entitled Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, and there has been a projected movie – now reportedly on hold – to which Jack O’Connell and Andrew Haigh were once attached as star and director. Now there is this sombre, thorough, intelligent and informative documentary by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui giving us the moving story of a working-class boy with fierce and original talent who began as a tailor’s apprentice in Savile Row before getting mentored into the big league by fashion writer and salonnière Isabella Blow, and whose increasingly outrageous and confrontational shows made him one of the fashion world’s biggest stars.
One interviewee laughingly talks about “unwearability”. Of course. No designer could make it clearer that these shows are not about clothes to buy on the high street, but huge theatrical events to showcase the brand. McQueen was a key figure in the creativity industries of 90s Cool Britannia (although the film doesn’t make the obvious comparison to Damien Hirst and Charles Saatchi’s “young British artists” generation).
Finally the hysterical intensity of the work, publicity and the loneliness of command took its toll, childhood memories of abuse were never entirely expunged, he was deeply depressed by becoming HIV-positive and by the deaths of Blow and also his mother, to whom he was utterly devoted. Perhaps you really had to be there but the sheer audacity and craziness of his shows comes across here, especially his Voss from 2001, with a central, shocking image based on Joel-Peter Witkin’s Sanitorium. Afterwards, Tom Ford is shown making admiring comments.
It was only watching this that I realised that Ford must surely have been inspired by McQueen’s Voss for the beginning of his movie Nocturnal Animals. A pity that McQueen himself never tried to make a film.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: McQueen review – meticulous portrait of fashion’s master of audacity | Film