dir: Ian Bonhôte, co-director and writer Peter Ettedgui
Composer: Michael Nyman
UK | 2018 | 111 mins | cert. 15 | col
“…crafted with great artistry and ingenuity, McQueen works both as a spectacular visual album of his work and an achingly moving account of the incomplete life behind it. That’s a rare balance to strike in the fashion-doc subgenre, and one that should yield audience interest beyond the rag-trade niche – as did the blockbuster museum retrospective of his work, aptly named ‘Savage Beauty’…”
Variety, Guy Lodge review, May 5th
How did this rebel overturn the silver-spoon world of Paris haute couture, ushering in the heady, revolutionary era of Cool Britannia? And why, at the height of acclaim and power, did he shockingly put an end to it all?
Lee Alexander McQueen’s story is told here in six chapters, each created chronologically around a pivotal moment in his life coinciding with the launch of a new McQueen collection at one of his revolutionary fashion shows. McQueen transformed the catwalk show into his own brand of epic dramatic spectacle. In so doing, he introduced the world not just to his latest fashions, but to the different aspects of his psyche that galvanized his creative vision. “My collections have always been autobiographical, a lot to do with my own sexuality and coming to terms with the person I am,” McQueen said, “It’s like exorcising my ghosts. The shows are about what’s buried in my psyche… My shows are about Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll. It’s for the excitement and the goosebumps. I want heart attacks. I want ambulances.”
A working-class boy from East London, he harnessed his demons and went on to become a global one-man fashion brand and one of the most iconic artists of the century. Mirroring the beauty, boldness and vivacity of his designs, this documentary is an intimate revelation of McQueen’s own world, in the cultural context of the 90’s-noughties. Archive footage is fused with insights from his family, close friends, collaborators and partners, ultimately celebrating this radical and mesmerizing genius of profound influence. The music for the film is by McQueen’s friend, the composer Michael Nyman.
‘Archive: McQueen: Backstage – The Early Shows’ RRP £40, was launched at The Proud Gallery, Chelsea. Gary Wallis, renowned British photographer and Big Smile Publishing founder, launched the book with an exhibition of select and never seen before images, with a foreword by stylist and McQueen collaborator Katy England. Gary will sign any books sold with the VIP tickets for this Fashion & Cinema Special Preview event.
Photographer Gary Wallis first met Lee McQueen, later known as Alexander McQueen, while they were both studying at Central Saint Martins. Their long term collaboration began when Lee asked Gary to shoot his MA graduation collection ‘Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims’. The images of this legendary show may now be lost forever.
The pair did not see each other again until shortly before McQueen’s ‘Banshee’ collection at Café de Paris. Lee requested he make a short home movie including the show backstage, plus take pictures. For McQueen’s next four shows ‘The Birds’, ‘Highland Rape’, ‘The Hunger’ and ‘Dante’, Wallis was given backstage access to take pictures. This mainly unseen library has been hidden away in filing cabinets for 20 years until now, being published as the first in an ‘archive’ series by Big Smile Publishing. Wallis’ images provide a true insider’s view into a rare moment in time, as McQueen pushed the boundaries of convention and rose up to be the rebel king of British fashion.
This intimate collection, published as a beautiful litho-printed hardback, is a must-have for any discerning lover of McQueen and fashion alike.