McQueen review – moving documentary on a fashion maverick | Documentary films

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This moving documentary looks at the legacy of Lee A McQueen, the mercurial, anti-establishment fashion designer better known as Alexander McQueen. Co-directed by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui, it divides his life into chapters or “tapes” titled after his most iconic collections. It’s a thrill to relive McQueen’s shows, from Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims to Highland Rape and Plato’s Atlantis. Their theatrics have a tense, cinematic quality, only helped by Michael Nyman’s twisting, needling score.

McQueen grew up daydreaming of dresses in Stratford, east London, before an apprenticeship at Anderson & Sheppard of Savile Row that would eventually lead to a creative director role at Givenchy. Described as “funny and disrespectful”, McQueen had an equal interest in sabotage and tradition (and an obsession with Sinéad O’Connor), and was inspired by fetish culture, Francis Bacon and the grim history of London’s East End. The film does well to capture its subject’s cheekiness.

Bonhôte and Ettedgui stress that he came of age at Central Saint Martins, catching the attention of soon-to-be mentor Isabella Blow, who was struck by the emotional quality of his work. By combining cheaply shot home videos of the designer goofing off in the studio with archive of his shows and talking head interviews with some of his closest colleagues (though not all – fashion heads will surely spot the omissions), the film-makers capture the impact he had on the people around him.

However, this is also a film about McQueen the Londoner, surviving on unemployment benefit while he established himself and coming up in the 90s among controversial celebrity artists like Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst. Much of the film’s context is cocaine and overwork, liposuction and New Labour – a cocktail of unhappiness that drove McQueen to suicide in 2010.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: McQueen review – moving documentary on a fashion maverick | Documentary films

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