Tribeca Film Festival-World Premier of McQUEEN
The dark world of Lee Alexander McQueen, which was once presented to the public during Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer fashion weeks, was rediscovered once again on Sunday, April 22 during the Tribeca Film Festival screening of “McQueen.” The documentary, which was directed by Ian Bonhôte and written by Peter Ettedgui, took the world behind the scenes of the life of the creative genius.
The “Bad Boy of Fashion,” as McQueen was often called in magazine headlines, was quite the opposite. A caring man, who dropped out of school at the age of 15, took his mother’s advice and joined a tailoring shop in England. There, McQueen learned the craft of perfect tailoring and inserting secret messages within the seams of his work. After working at the shop and realizing he was not willing to stay there for the rest of his life, McQueen decided to pursue a fashion design degree at Central St. Martins in London. Having little to no money, McQueen managed to push through schooling with the help of his aunt, while using his unemployment reimbursements to purchase his fabrics and other necessary materials to turn his vision into reality.
It all paid off when Isabella Blow, an English magazine editor and fashion talent hunter, saw McQueen’s debut collection-“Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims.” She mentioned that the way the clothes moved was nothing like she has ever seen before. Besides, purchasing his entire first collection, the connection between her and McQueen would eventually result in a long-lasting platonic relationship. Indeed, Blow was the one who advised McQueen to use “Alexander” instead of “Lee” for his label because it sounded more “posh.”
The documentary details McQueen’s rise to fame and fortune. The designer, who was once one of the six children of a cab-driving father became the world’s most recognized creative director of Alexander McQueen and Givenchy. Yet, despite the fame and all of the pressure that followed it, McQueen did not change who he was. When he was appointed as the creative director of Givenchy, he hired a team of his friends for various positions within the company to assist him in the new role. He also chose to eat his meals with tailors and garment workers in Givenchy’s cantine, which was something no creative director has ever done before. For his friends and his team, McQueen was simply, “Lee”; for the rest of the world, he was Alexander McQueen.
“McQueen” explores the personal life of the designer and the connections he established with people during his lifetime. The never-before seen footage from friends and family’s personal video files reveals a softer and a drastically different side to the fashion’s mad man. Besides, the documentary emphasizes designer’s work process, which was quite compulsive due to McQueen coming up with a full collection occasionally in one sitting, a few weeks before the show (“The Search for the Golden Fleece,” a debut collection for Givenchy, which had 55 looks created in 25 days). The documentary also shines a light on the dark and light aspects of McQueen’s life, such as cocaine usage and the death of his mother, while also featuring the quirky and sarcastic, “Lee” side that brings a few laughs and smiles to the audience.
Lee Alexander McQueen liked to do the impossible and looked for something that “doesn’t exist.” The film depicts just that: McQueen’s designs were out of this world, and they were thought-provoking, controversial, and stunning. He collided worlds without sacrificing his vision. The clothing produced by McQueen was a reflection of his inner world, and his thought process. And as the designer himself used to say, “Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment.”
If you are interested in exploring the mad world of Lee Alexander McQueen, the documentary, “McQUEEN,” will be released on July 13, 2018.