Ian Bonhȏte and Peter Ettedgui (director)
08 June 2018 (released)
06 June 2018
The striking poster for McQueen both advertises the film and gives a little insight into the topic and the man himself. It is disturbing, beautiful and complex, for starters. There was so much more to Alexander McQueen as this superlative documentary by Ian Bonhȏte and Peter Ettedgui shows.
Using a wealth of material and interviews with family, friends and colleagues it chronologically, and chaptered, takes us through his early life in Stratford, as Lee, works and gains experience at tailors in Saville Row, his studies, and then, as Alexander, the superstardom of the Givenchy years, Gucci, the creation of his own company, and the fashion shows. And superstardom it is. He is a household name, stars and artists court him at the same time producing shows like La Dame Bleue (2007) and Plato’s Atlantis (2009) that were on a par with the most elaborate rock, theatre and opera staging’s.
His name was above the title but there’s were also his friends and a team that collaborated on his visions, letting their imaginations fly. An exhilarating period of creativity, friendship and loyalty that took the rough with the smooth. And there was the rough. The death of fashion stylist Isabella ‘Issie’ Blow in 2007 who had helped him in the early years but seemed to have cast aside later on was devastating.
It’s at this point that the film’s tone darkens as McQueen’s struggles with mental illness and drugs start to take their toll. The chemistry of the team, though still capable of fabulous work, begins to disintegrate. McQueen’s appearance dramatically changes; his once engaging features now drawn, to go with a harder slimline look. That hardness has an edge that now has to deal with a multi-million-pound business, pressures from fashion houses and on himself.
And there’s the money, plenty of it and McQueen earned it, by never stopping working. One show after another, one collection after another with little if any respite. It was a relentless strain on body and mind with no vent. Until he tragically took everything into his own hands.
It’s at times a savagely elegant film, the images in a dark harmony with the music of Michael Nyman. It sets McQueen’s sometimes shocking creations in the context of what was the tortured mind of a genius, and what, and who, he was surrounded by.