Three Reasons to Watch: McQueen
Every Monday, we pick a key film from the Curzon Home Cinema collection. As London Fashion Week prepares to descend on the British capital, we look at a documentary exploring the life of one of that world’s brightest stars.
The story of Alexander McQueen is one that has been regurgitated time after time in the media. The south London lad made good, who enjoyed the excesses of his profession but was eventually consumed by it. Too often, the easiest story is the most clichéd, which loses the nuances of an individual’s real life – the details that made them so compelling or successful; what drew people to them or turned them away. The rags to riches story is regularly painted in broad strokes, which is why Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s film is an important record of Alexander McQueen’s life.
Colleagues, friends and family share their memories of Alexander McQueen, their testimonies building a complex and often conflicting portrait of the designer as he worked his way up the fashion ladder, from tailor’s assistant to multiple British Designer of the Year award-winner – the youngest recipient of that title – and heading up a fashion house. It charts his early years, through a wealth of home video footage, alongside more recent candid recordings.
Fashion documentaries have become a popular entertainment over the course of the last decade, particularly after the success of The September Issue(2009). They generally focus on an event – the arrival of a new director, an upcoming fashion show, an historic moment in fashion’s past – and provide a euphoric arc of angst and success. Bonhôte and Ettedgui’s film celebrate McQueen’s successes, of which there were many. But they also step back to ask questions about the nature of the industry, an environment that can consume and discard talent with a frightening voracity. The result is both a testament to McQueen’s brilliance, but also a cautionary tale – one that asks why they wasn’t more support for a uniquely gifted yet fragile soul.
Three reasons to watch Mcqueen
• The designs. Institutionalisation usually produces conformity, but McQueen’s style felt radical to the last.
• The shows. Bonhôte and Ettedgui’s documentary makes the most of the footage of McQueen’s extraordinary shows.
• Giving McQueen a voice. By using swathes of home recordings, the film shifts past the conventional celebrity documentary to present a different portrait of the artist.
McQueen is available to watch on Curzon Home Cinema