SEC­OND SCREEN

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - MORE FILM - Matthew Bond

I’d for­got­ten about the so-called ‘bum­sters’, trousers so low-cut they left half your bot­tom on dis­play. And the tow­er­ing plat­form shoes that seemed to defy the laws of physics. Not to men­tion his love of the ca­su­ally dis­played nip­ple.

But then Alexan­der McQueen (right), one of the bad boys of fash­ion, has been dead for eight years now and would be in dan­ger of be­ing for­got­ten were it not for hugely pop­u­lar mu­seum shows such as Sav­age

Beauty and now doc­u­men­taries like this one, sim­ply ti­tled McQueen (15A) ★★★★.

Made, clearly with love, by Ian Bon­hôte and Peter Et­tedgui, and with mu­sic from one of McQueen’s favourite com­posers, Michael Ny­man, it’s the story of the plump, work­ing-class boy from Lon­don whose love of clothes and de­sign would even­tu­ally see him in­stalled as head de­signer at both Givenchy and Gucci, as well as hav­ing a ground-break­ing and hugely suc­cess­ful la­bel of his own.

It’s the story of a man who loved good tai­lor­ing but also loved to rip up the es­tab­lished con­ven­tions of the fash­ion world in his de­sire both to cre­ate and to shock, draw­ing the fre­quent crit­i­cism that his clothes were both misog­y­nis­tic and un­wear­able. And yet you don’t have to know very much about fash­ion to see that there is beauty as well as ge­nius here.

Suc­cess made him wealthy, slim, world-fa­mous and dif­fi­cult to work with. But it didn’t make him happy, as this even­tu­ally sad and mov­ing story makes clear. As one of the con­trib­u­tors, plucked from a mix of fam­ily and close col­leagues, puts it: ‘The more money he had, the more un­happy he was.’

Un­der re­lent­less pres­sure to keep churn­ing out head­line-grab­bing col­lec­tions, us­ing drugs and dev­as­tated by the death of his mother, McQueen com­mit­ted sui­cide the day be­fore her fu­neral. He was 40.

This film is a fas­ci­nat­ing trib­ute, adroitly tip-toe­ing its per­ilous way through cre­ations and col­lec­tions, some des­tined to be­come fash­ion clas­sics while oth­ers smacked of ‘em­peror’s new clothes’. Some­times al­most lit­er­ally.

It’s an in­ti­mate por­trait and a must-see for any­one in­ter­ested in fash­ion but, as more of an in­ter­ested by­stander, I would have en­joyed an out­side voice or two of­fer­ing a lit­tle his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive on McQueen’s bril­liant but trag­i­cally short ca­reer.

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