McQueen: Tragedy in Fashion

Alexander McQueen in McQueen. Photographer: Ann Ray. Courtesy of Bleecker Street.

Drawing on videos and interviews, McQueen tells the story of fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen.

The fashion designer was best known as Alexander McQueen.  His story may best personify the rags-to-riches story.  It can be said that his own life wasn’t without his own tragic shortcomings.

McQueen grew up in East London’s working-class Stratford neighborhood with five other siblings.  Nobody could have ever predicted that a shy child would go onto become one of the most famous men in the world!  How could they?!?

He was an apprentice at a number of Savile Row tailors before going on to earn a Masters in Fashion Design at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.  It was through earning his degree that McQueen met Isabella Blow.  A fashion stylist by trade, Blow purchased his entire 1992 graduation collection.  She would go on to play a major part in his life.  She convinced him to drop his first name before he started up his own label in 1992.  Despite already having his own label, he took on a position as Givenchy’s chief designer from 1996-2001.

Told in parts, Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui co-direct a documentary on the fashion designer with no lack of footage.  Whether it’s interviews with friends and family or archival interviews with McQueen himself, we get to know more about this tragic figure.  It’s through archival footage in which we get to see the man at work.  Whether it’s designing clothing or showing them off on the runway, there was no shortage of ideas in his mind.

This isn’t a conventional documentary by any means.  The filmmakers have pinpointed five different shows in McQueen’s life and use those as the basis for their storytelling.  What they make sure to document first and foremost is the work that went into the designs.

He was a designer that went to the deepest depths of his mind to revolutionize the fashion industry.  Whether it was his ancestry or something he read, something was always there to influence his clothing designs.  He was a man who was able to accomplish so much within his short lifetime.  He was a four-time recipient of the British Designer of the Year Award.  In spite of all of this, he was in torment.  On the eve of his own mother’s funeral, the fashion designer would go on to take his own life.  The designer was HIV+ so that may have played a role in his suicide.

The documentary will prove to be insightful even if you have never heard of the fashion designer.

DIRECTORS:  Ian Bonhôte
SCREENWRITER:  Peter Ettedgui
FEATURING:  Alexander McQueen (archival), Isabella Blow (archival), Mira Chai Hyde, Sebastian Pons, John McKitterick, Bobby Hillson, Detmar Blow, Janet McQueen, Gary McQueen

McQueen premiered during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.  Bleecker Street opened McQueen in theaters on July 20, 2018 with a theatrical rollout to follow.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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