Dark­ness ris­ing

A new doc­u­men­tary about de­signer Alexan­der McQueen hints at drama to come

Esquire (UK) - - Culture -

No one needs to be con­vinced of the ge­nius of Lee McQueen. Since his death in 2010, the work of the de­signer be­hind Alexan­der McQueen has been widely show­cased and cel­e­brated, not least in the V&A’s Sav­age Beauty ex­hi­bi­tion in 2015. Which means that the task left to McQueen, a doc­u­men­tary by Ian Bon­hôte and Pe­ter Et­tedgui, is in some ways sim­pler — not to make a case for his im­por­tance, but to ex­plain quite how he came to be (and then sadly, not).

Re­ally, it’s as­ton­ish­ing. McQueen was a tubby young boy from Lon­don’s East End, who took up tailor­ing at his mother’s sug­ges­tion and soon found he had nat­u­ral flair. Fast-for­ward through Cen­tral Saint Martins, a trans­for­ma­tive friend­ship with fash­ion maven Is­abella Blow, a con­tro­ver­sial stint at Givenchy, and some of the most out­landish and mem­o­rable cat­walk events the fash­ion world had ever seen, and it’s a rags-to-riches story of the high­est or­der.

What the film has, how­ever, aside from in­ter­views with McQueen’s fam­ily, friends and col­leagues, is a wealth of ar­chive ma­te­rial that shows the de­signer at work and play — lark­ing about, smil­ing, and gen­er­ally re­mind­ing us that the Nineties were rather a laugh. But also, in his throw­away com­ments and asides, it shows the dark­ness brew­ing in­side him, as well as in his col­lec­tions: the sense, per­ceived and real, that oth­ers were try­ing to take him down; or that he wasn’t get­ting the credit he de­served; or that his fu­ture was not in his con­trol. Ul­ti­mately, and trag­i­cally, he en­sured that it was.

McQueen is out on 8 June

Alexan­der McQueen with model Shalom Har­low at the de­signer’s SS ’99 ‘Show 13’, Lon­don, Septem­ber 1998

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