It’s been eight years since Sarah Burton took the helm at Alexander McQueen, stepping into the biggest of shoes and steering the brand beautifully towards a new chapter. Of course, the storied beginnings of the monumental British fashion house will never be forgotten, and thanks to filmmakers Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s new documentary, McQueen, we can now take a step back in time to explore in intimate detail the life and legacy of the label’s legendary founder, Alexander ‘Lee’ McQueen.
It recounts McQueen’s most boundary-breaking moments
The film is broken down into five chapters based on some of McQueen’s most memorable shows: from the awe-inspiring live spray-painting of Shalom Harlow by two robotic guns for SS99, to his darker concepts such as the Victorian asylum-themed Voss for SS01. As well as the spectacles themselves, which fans of McQueen will be more than familiar with, the documentary takes us backstage and right into the energy and emotion that he poured into every show.
The archival footage is remarkable
Through a compilation of never-before-seen footage that McQueen and his friends and colleagues shot on a shaky VHS camcorder, we get an intimate insight into his trajectory of graduating from Central Saint Martins and setting up his eponymous label, to his pivotal appointment at the helm of Givenchy in 1996. What’s more, much of the catwalk footage in the documentary has come from NET-A-PORTER’s Runway Show Collection video archive. The team worked closely with the film’s producers over a four-month period to research and locate unique footage from his seminal shows – including Nihilism, The Birds and Plato’s Atlantis – as well as rare interviews and backstage clips featuring his friend and muse Isabella Blow.
His most important relationships are explored in great depth
McQueen’s mother Joyce and his friend Isabella Blow were two of the most influential figures in his life and career, and both relationships are examined in great detail. There are heart-warming moments in which we see McQueen as a carefree teenager in the east end of London, interspersed with tales of Blow desperately trying to track him down after being so impressed by his graduate collection. The tumultuous years of their friendship and his mother’s passing in 2010 are also poignantly recounted.
The latter half of the documentary details McQueen’s untimely death; interviews with family members such as his nephew, Gary, are particularly heart-wrenching. Ultimately, the documentary paints a visually compelling and emotively candid portrayal of a designer whose passing left an irreparable rip in the tapestry of British design, but whose legacy is immortal.
McQueen is released on June 8 (UK) and July 20 (US)
The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown.