Directed by: Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui (co-director)
Written by: Peter Ettedgui
Starring: Alexander McQueen, Gary James McQueen, Janet McQueen and Dana Thomas
Run Time: 1h 51min
4 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
This is top notch documentary filmmaking. It’s both incredibly entertaining and highly inciteful. It’s exceptionally well done not only in its value for its own artistic endeavors but its ability to show how truly talented fashion designer Alexander McQueen was. You may not be into fashion but you don’t have to be to enjoy this you just have to want to see an entertaining documentary on an interesting subject… that would be this film.
Alexander McQueen was an artist who, at a young age, was bitten by the fashion bug. Once he realized what it was he wanted to do he never let the fantasy of doing it die. At the age of seventeen, he was making his sister skirts. From very humble beginnings, he knew he didn’t have the money to go to expensive schools for his craft, so he got a job tailoring suits and thus began his dream. Realizing his talents, his aunt (who always supported and encouraged him), helped him get into Saint Martin’s School of Art. There, he felt he could let his true self out and it wasn’t long before he expressed what that was for the entire world to see. He had a legitimately dark side and after reading ‘Perfume,’ a book about the murder of women, he started doing research on Jack the Ripper and out of these influences came his ’92 graduation show in London called, ‘Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victim’s.’ It’s here where he catches the attention of Isabella Blow who was enamored with the craftsmanship, intensity and passion in his work. His ability to capture beauty and violence made her decide to take him on as her prodigy to which a deep friendship developed, one peppered, sadly, with ups and downs until her death at only forty-eight years of age. I don’t want to get into that too much here but know that their relationship was, most likely, more important than either one of them ever realized. This is stated and captured very well in this film.
McQueen was so good at what he did, such a uniquely complex visionary, that he didn’t even have to measure people before he made their clothing. He could size a person up and make something for them by just his eye just as a pianist might play a piece of music they’ve heard only once. His gifts were noticeable and vast as he always had a natural, physical association with what he crafted.
In this documentary we see him move from England, who loves him, to Paris, France where his work isn’t quite as understood. He is asked to be the creative director of Givenchy and with boyfriend Murray Arthur in tow, he goes to expand his technique and portfolio. He has more money than he ever dreamed of, but it hasn’t changed him… not yet. He tries the best he can to fit into the world of Paris fashion and does this by exposing a softer side. As far as fashion went, it didn’t matter which side he disclosed, it was always brilliant… but not necessarily for him.
Of all people, he deserved to be successful and by the end of this documentary, you’ll wish, for yourself, he had left one move in his life behind. If he had, we’d still be enjoying his broad, unconventional completely stunning work today. God knows how far he would have gone. That said, his last show will devastate you. What Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui reveal is a man crying out for help but too quietly to be heard. You can tell the filmmakers appreciated and loved him and his work because you can feel it in the way the movie was shot. By the time it’s over, you’ll feel the same way and want to Google everything you missed. So, do that and watch this, too. It’s a good way to get to know Alexander McQueen and it’s the least he and his intellectually complicated collections deserve.
Official Website: www.McQueen.film