The documentary McQueen is wild, fascinating and bittersweet.
It reveals the complex contest between the late British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, his art and the sublunary need to earn money that brought him both great success and crushing isolation. This was a struggle that finally imprisoned him completely with his suicide on the eve of his mother’s funeral in 2010.
The film follows McQueen’s life and meteoric career from a teenager through five chapters, showing the milestones that led to an exquisitely visual integration of body, spirit and mind that set apart his creations from his peers.
Every runway show was a beautifully fierce and deeply personal commentary that attempted to elicit a reaction – to disturb, to offend, to fascinate, to tell it the way it is!
Directors Peter Ettedgui and Ian Bonhote don’t just pay homage to the rebellious and flamboyant genius from working-class London whose work was crafted from a gritty and unromanticised reality spun with strong threads of sadness.
Through archived footage and interviews the movie sensitively traces the dark archetypal imagery and powerful symbols that reflected the deepest layers of McQueen’s personality. His life embraced universal strengths and weaknesses as well as incredible vision and an intuition of the direct healing power of love, nature and storytelling.
Alexander McQueen’s clothes were not about romantic and erotic images in the idealised feminine sense. His designs were based on the essence of passion, violence, sex, and romance. He embraced the Shadow. Unlike most of us he peered directly at the darkness that lies within and his irreverent confrontations spoiled our fantasies and dreams.
Fashion is simply a tool for communication in McQueen’s deft hands. His creations insisted upon truth. And yet paradoxically, as he strove to juggle capitalist pressures whilst putting into context the untold stories of exploration and gift us with a greater consciousness in our lives, he drifted further out to sea.
The movie is visually stunning and poignantly tells the story of a raucous, bolshie creative genius that was so obviously loved by the people closest to him. For those unfamiliar with McQueen it is worth seeing on the big screen to feel this, rather than just academically comprehend the all too familiar strange & tortured genius trope.
McQueen opens today at PalaceNova Eastend.
Check out the official site here.
Reviewed by Jo Schofield.