“McQueen” Documentary Brings Audiences into the Designer’s Dark and Brilliant Life

Written by | Entertainment, Screen

models in McQueen

McQueen photo by Ann Ray courtesy Bleecker Street Media

Anyone who lived in New York City in 2011 but was foolish enough not to attend Savage Beauty, the record breaking exhibition of fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will feel the regret of missing out after viewing this excellent documentary about a simultaneously magnificent and ordinary man. The film follows McQueen (Lee, to his friends) from humble beginnings on London’s East End to the heights of international fame from which he tragically could not find his way back. Disarmingly plain in appearance (chubby, with a weak chin and a mouth that tended to hang open), McQueen looked more like a pizza delivery boy than a designer of haute couture. Beyond just appearance, there was something pleasingly pedestrian about the man, who shied away from the spotlight — living for his work, friendships, beloved mother and playful dogs. Scored with tracks by film composer Michael Nyman (The Piano, Man on Wire), a favorite of McQueen’s, the film brims with an urgency furthered by the intensity of McQueen’s runway shows: their unusual names become the film’s chapter titles – e.g. “Highland Rape” and “The Dance of the Twisted Bull.” Crackling with McQueen’s talent and dark psychic energy as well as the efforts of his gifted collaborators, these fashion shows appear more like true art than any others I’ve seen. And through this well composed collage of interviews with friends, archival footage and overall exquisite visuals, you get a remarkably clear picture of a complex artist and his visionary art. THE WORD: McQueen suggests — quite possibly correctly — that its subject was in a league all his own, and this doc offers an intimate glimpse into the person behind the art. COMING TO: Theaters

Read about Andrew Wilson’s book, Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin

Last modified: July 20, 2018