The two documentary filmmakers Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui dedicate their documentary ALEXANDER MCQUEEN a detailed portrait of the fashion designer of the same name that will not only delight fashion-savvy viewers. We reveal more about this in our review.
That’s what it’s about
“My shows are about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll”: Lee Alexander McQueen brought punk back into the fashion world. An eccentric designer who founded his own label “Alexander McQueen” in 1993 and always caused scandals with his opulent fashion shows. But the exceptional talent, who died prematurely in 2010, was much more than an enfant terrible who provoked and shocked the public with his creative ideas. The extraordinary designer and person managed to touch his audience with his work far beyond the boundaries of the fashion world. This is demonstrated, among other things, by the overwhelming success of the exhibition “Savage Beauty”: in 2011, the homage to the late work of the artist Alexander McQueen caused a huge stir in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, before becoming the most successful exhibition of all time in 2015 with almost 500,000 visitors London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.
Movie explanation of the ending
Born in London in 1969, Lee Alexander McQueen was considered the enfant terrible of the fashion world during his lifetime. His collections were inspired by women who were raped or based on the bloodthirsty murders of Jack The Ripper. This caused controversy at the time: Was this fashion designer, who worked for major houses like Givenchy and Gucci, a madman, a genius or an insane genius? In any case, he was a controversial personality, which the documentary filmmakers Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui try to explain a little in their documentary biopic “Alexander McQueen”, which is reduced to the essentials. Incidentally, neither of them provide a direct answer to the question of who exactly the person portrayed here was. Instead, they present many different, documentary fragments of McQueen’s life in their film and leave the interpretation entirely to the viewer. In doing so, they do not take away from scandalous plans and decisions the core of their provocation and unnecessarily protect McQueen in retrospect, but at the same time, with many original interviews with the main character and conversations with relatives, they also offer enough opportunities to look at the fashion world and Alexander McQueen’s environment in particular with completely different eyes to see. The two directors have to be given credit for allowing McQueen to retain this touch of mystery, as they have also managed to create a film that is very appealing not only to fashion lovers.
Alexander McQueen at a fashion show.
Alexander McQueen took big risks at the beginning of his career as a fashion designer. At first glance, this cannot be said about the documentary about him: Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui (who also wrote and directed the Marlon Brando documentary “Listen to Me Marlon”) follow, at least structurally, the usual motifs of a documentary portrait about a person Well-known personality: Leaving out his childhood years, “Alexander McQueen” begins in the early phases of McQueen’s work, when he was only 16 years old and began an apprenticeship as a tailor and then worked for costume designers and various designers. The filmmakers work chronologically from station to station until McQueen’s death in 2010. Her work is divided into chapters, each named after important projects in McQueen’s life and heralded by the magnificent art installation of a skull arranged in many different ways, as it also adorns the poster for the film. The whole thing is somewhat reminiscent of Danny Boyle’s drama “Steve Jobs” – here, too, the focus is on three very crucial projects by the Apple founder, all of which represent different stages of the protagonist’s career and, above all, life. But like Danny Boyle, Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui are not only interested in what the person they portray has created in the respective phase of their life, but above all in what was going on inside them.
To get to the bottom of this, the directing duo draws on a whole arsenal of contemporary witness material. At Bonhôte and Ettedgui’s disposal were not only original photographs from the various studios, from the fashion shows and, above all, from what was happening behind takes place behind the scenes of the fashion business. “Alexander McQueen” also repeatedly shows interview excerpts with McQueen himself, which were not created for this documentary, but which reflect the artist even better in the phase in which they were created. With the exception of the interviews with life companions, friends and colleagues conducted especially for this film, nothing about “Alexander McQueen” seems staged; And that’s exactly what creates such an ambivalent image of a main character that other directors could quickly run the risk of romanticizing in the aftermath. The documentary contains highly controversial topics: the reaction to his provocative fashion shows as well as the creation of those shows. Even McQueen’s desire to commit suicide live on a catwalk and thereby end his career with a bang – in the truest sense of the morbid word – is addressed in “Alexander McQueen”. Those responsible have definitely not chosen the most convenient way to create a cinematic monument to one of the most important British fashion designers in the world.
Alexander McQueen at work
But they are the most honest, and that also means that “Alexander McQueen” doesn’t just take time for what once caused the biggest stir in the press (even if these are admittedly the most exciting moments in the film, and the most exciting ones). are likely to appeal to a non-fashion-savvy audience), but also for what, by nature, no one who was not already part of McQueen’s environment took notice. For example, recordings and relatives repeatedly show the fashion designer’s thoughtfulness when it came to looking after his employees. The models should be provided with lavish meals, as well as regular breaks for his team – at first glance, a stark contrast to a person who was perceived by the public as an unpredictable eccentric. “Alexander McQueen” is based on these three pillars – McQueen behind the scenes, in front of the scenes and in the press – and thus provides an all-encompassing picture of a remarkable personality. The fact that details such as his love life are almost completely missing here can be explained by the fact that it hardly played a role for the overall person, as Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui wanted to portray them here. Above all, it’s about public perception – and your film could perhaps even change something about that, because the fashion designer’s early suicide seems even more tragic in the aftermath of this documentary when you consider his work, the concepts, the formal rigor and vision of it first to appreciate and then to understand the artist.
Conclusion: The documentary “Alexander McQueen” gives an intimate insight into the life of the visionary fashion designer and leaves out no detail, no matter how painful. Directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui leave the answer to the question of whether McQueen was an eccentric visionary or a calculating provocateur to the viewer and thereby do particularly justice to the exciting personality of the main character who died under tragic circumstances.
“Alexander McQueen” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from November 29th.