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Alexander McQueen on Film: Finding Beauty in the Grotesque

The combination of McQueen’s trademark theatricality and his rags-to-riches life is a story begging to be filmed. From his early life on a council estate to the pages of Vogue and the catwalks of Paris, McQueen’s was a dazzling life cut short by the tragedy of depression and suicide.

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The combination of McQueen’s trademark theatricality and his rags-to-riches life is a story begging to be filmed. From his early life on a council estate to the pages of Vogue and the catwalks of Paris, McQueen’s was a dazzling life cut short by the tragedy of depression and suicide.

Now a film is to be made, in which McQueen’s biography ‘Blood Beneath The Skin’ by Andrew Wilson, will act as a reference rather than as a source for adaptation. A wise move; a film should surely extend our knowledge of the subject by cinematic means. It is to be directed by Andrew Haigh, who has recently triumphed with his film ’45 Years’ starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay.

SEEN is agog to see how all the famous stories about fashion’s ‘enfant terrible’ will be staged: sewing swearwords into the linings of Prince Charles’ suits; his turbulent friendship with one-time muse Isabella Blow, itself to be a film entitled ‘The Ripper’ after the first collection that Blow brought in its entirety from McQueen; the rise to Gucci; the catwalk shows that caused so much controversy… as McQueen said ‘I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists.’ Hopefully Andrew Haigh will be doing the same.

The film will be produced by Damian Jones, who is cornering a particular style of ‘Britishness’ in the films he’s produced, with ‘Dad’s Army’, ‘Absolutely Fabulous – The Movie’ and Noel Clarke’s ‘Brotherhood’. The McQueen film is set to be a worthy addition to the canon. As McQueen himself said, ‘British fashion is self-confident and fearless… generating a constant flow of new ideas whilst drawing in British heritage.’

‘The Ripper’ will be produced by Maven Pictures and concentrate on McQueen’s relationship with Isabella Blow, the fashion talent scout bar none. With her support, McQueen took the fashion world by storm but the pair fell out when his label was bought by Gucci and Isabella was sidelined. Her suicide in 2007 foreshadowed McQueen’s own death three years later.
Cinematically rich in terms of life material and visual impact, both films are eagerly anticipated. McQueen said once that ‘fame should be left to the film stars.’ SEEN couldn’t agree more. With fictional McQueens to be announced, this is life about to meet art.

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