Film Review: "McQueen" is a beautiful and emotional chronicle of Alexander McQueen's rise in fashion
I am not one who closely follows high fashion. My Vogue purchases have been restricted to the September issue (which seems to grow in size with ads every year). While aware of designers, my knowledge of Alexander McQueen has been restricted to red tartan and black and white skull scarves (a staple accessory of the Nicole Richie/Lindsay Lohan boho-chic era). So, I walked into McQueen expecting to be educated, and educated I was.
Following his passing in 2010, Alexander McQueen’s work has been revived via an art exhibition in New York (Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty). Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui work together in weaving together a beautiful yet informative documentary that covers McQueen's rise through the fashion ranks. Coming from a working-class background, McQueen began his career as a trainee on Savile Row. After building his skillset, he went on to become a disruptive visionary, with his early collections providing a commentary on societal norms. McQueen was able to show the audience that fashion can be more than just clothing, with his work being presented as more of a live art exhibition as opposed to the stereotypical fashion week catwalk.
Beyond his career, the documentary delves into his personal life. With interviews from mentors, family members, close friends, former boyfriends, the audience is able to feel the raw emotion remaining from his passing. Ettedgui commented, “There were a lot of people who genuinely loved him – eight years is not a long time really when you’re talking about grief”. This results in the audience being taken on a journey that covers the highs and lows of being in the life of a rising artist. His collections were a reflection of both society and his emotional state, with McQueen viewing them as semi-autobiographical. Due to this, the directors make a wise decision in making his collections the defining features of his story. As he gains a following his collections become more elaborate and exciting, shown as a contrast in interviews regarding his relationships and emotional well-being.
If you have any interest in fashion or art, this film is a must see. With careful consideration of music and cinematography, the documentary itself feels like a piece of art.