McQueen and I
Each week as part of my course at Uni we have movie Monday, where we watch a fashion film or documentary ( may favourite part of the week. The pick this week was McQueen and I. A documentary/ film about Alexandra McQueen as a person and his incredible work before he committed suicide back in 2010. Five minuets into the film I came to the realisation that I had in fact seen it before, how ever I still found the film as interesting and slightly unsettling as the first time I had watched it. “Who is the I in McQueen and I?” Is what my lecturer asked before an after the film. Once id seen it for a second time I was reminded that the film is also about Isabella Blow, an eccentric but marvellous lady that originally discovered Lee McQueen at his graduate show for Central St Martins. The film captures the unlikely friendship between McQueen and Blow demonstrating positives and negatives with in the fashion industry.
McQueen was the son of a London taxi driver and as a teenager worked as a tailor on Saville Row- learning the craft of tailoring but not enjoying being confined to a shop floor. I think this shows where his creativity really begun as he looked for more than to just be a tailor, he wanted to learn, learn, learn and was motivated to do so. Feeling that he would never be accepted on a course at St Martins McQueen had the canny idea to go in and ask for a job instead. Met by the course leader at the time Bobby Hillson, she found him interesting and quite brilliant offering him a place on the course the very same day. I found this incredible knowing the prestige of St Martins. And can’t help to think how possible it is for young people, of the similar background, to be able to do anything like that now we have student fees. Are students getting the same opportunities as 10 years ago?
As the film continues we see and learn more as his empire and success grows. McQueen and Blow both battle with depression and other demons as there lives get more intense. The questions I kept asking myself was how could these fashion houses just keep throwing money at him? I found it incredible that fashion designers could have so much creative freedom and so much god damn money just thrown at them. Money v creativity. Was his work and designs born out of his past when with no money one has to get creative? Or were his most famous pieces born from the ridiculous amount of money he suddenly had at his disposal, or a combination? Maybe that’s what made him great?
One last thing that really stood out to me was how he portrayed women. I couldn’t decide if the work was empowering, beautiful and liberating or actually uncomfortable to even look at? McQueen opened his mind and poured out his quite sinister and at times brutal imagination. What was in his head showed a dark side to fashion, his catwalk shows became performances in their own right, he was pushing all the boundaries. I personally feel, as much as I didn’t know how to react to some of the imagery and themes, I like that I didn’t know how to react. I think there are very few designers that make you really think about things and can get to to have a reaction like this. Even if is not positive It makes you feel and see things in a different way and that’s what fashion is all about no?
Overall it’s a great film. It makes you stop and think and lets you see into the complicated minds of Alexandra McQueen and Isabella Blow. What I found most curious was the sorrowful end of both of these fashion icons, to commit suicide seems so tragic and dramatic. However, the world of fashion will never be the same and will continue to be a more stimulating and imaginative place.