McQueen follows the rise and tragic fall of one of the most innovative and controversial fashion designers of recent times, tracking his most stunning and memorable fashion shows from “Jack The Ripper Stalks His Victims” in 1992 to “Plato’s Atlantis” in 2010. Through these stunning works we come to know a man of exceptional creative talent who succumbed to the grip of mental illness in a highly stressful and pressure heavy industry. Each collection is birthed from McQueen’s emotional core and reveal his identity in the most visually captivating way. As you watch, you wish you could’ve been able to see these shows in the flesh and McQueen is a designer whose work reveals fashion as a wonderful mode of storytelling.
The documentary places heavy focus on the transgressive quality of his works such as pieces that look like the body has been turned inside out and the use of an overweight naked model (effectively giving the middle finger to the fashion industry) in his horrifying asylum-set runway show “Voss.” His collections are provocative, and he certainly wasn’t afraid to push buttons. While the film is very much a visual celebration of sorts, it is of course not without its dark moments, where we learn of McQueen’s internal struggle and his fractured relationships as his fame ascended.
Subject matter aside, the aesthetic composition of this documentary is brilliant, the collections functioning as chapters that structure the film, marked by mesmerizing graphics of a skull that changes stylistically with every collection. We have a score by McQueen’s long time musical muse Michael Nyman and a vast array of archival footage, not just of the shows themselves, but more personal photos and videos. To think what more we could’ve seen from Alexander McQueen. This documentary is perhaps the perfect appreciation of his artistry.