McQueen is a beautiful reminder of the artist’s contribution to fashion

A boy who really loved his Mum, Alexander McQueen the progressively fractious designer, and subject of this doco was also a fierce talent with equal tendencies for fun and cruelty. Using recovered archival footage, photos and intensely personal interviews with some of his closest friends and family, director Ian Bonhôte and co-director/writer Peter Ettedgui, eloquently tease out the rocky journey of the school dropout who doodled dresses on his school books, the prophetic early cutting and tailoring apprenticeship at a Savile Row tailor, to the final harrowing chapters of his life.

Coming from a working class background, young Lee McQueen outwardly personified the cheeky laissez faire lad from outer East London, perhaps disguising (and in spite of) enduring periods of childhood emotional and sexual abuse. With a steadfast work ethic, an infectious wit and energy that garnered him no shortage of friends, many in various stages of creative ascension and wealth, Lee possessed an uncanny knack for falling on his feet.

His prescient obsessions with death and its various associations including skeletons and birds of prey, often formed controversial though subversively appealing foundations for the direction of his work. His first St Martins collection was bought in its entirety by Isabella Blow, English aristocrat, Tatler Fashion Editor, and arguably his most ardent early supporter. Friend, mentor, muse and collaborator, Blow, known for her daring fashion choices and love of hats enabled his manic creative drive, possibly recognising an underlying sadness, suffering as she also did from depression.

Utilising his innate charm to draw close a harem of chosen-ones who could help realise his vision, it was sad to see some of them cut off or rejected for perceived slights and remain unpraised, sometimes after years of devotion. With continual reinvention of body and business fuelled by increasing drug addiction, McQueen details how the pressure became unbearable. His troubled past unresolved, McQueen’s designs metamorphose as the outlet of his pent up fury, blurring the lines between art and fashion, completely original and stunning to behold. A stirring, compassionate insight into his volatile world and an achingly beautiful reminder of his contribution to fashion.