Regent’s University London hosted an exclusive showing of the critically acclaimed McQueen for staff and students on Monday night, detailing the rebellious and extraordinary life of fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen, better known as Alexander McQueen.
Introduced by director Ian Bonhôte, Gary McQueen (nephew of the late Lee McQueen), and Regent’s lecturers, Kim Blake (a member of the early PR team working with McQueen who also appears in the documentary) and Julia Robson, the moving documentary looks at the legacy of the mercurial British fashion designer by dividing it into chapters, each titled after his most iconic collections.
“We devised a structure to the film taking Lee at his word,” said Bonhôte. “Which was ‘if you want to know me, look at my work, my work is autobiographical’. We wanted to put the work and the fashion shows at the centre of the film.
“From the fashion shows you’ve seen, we tell the story in five chapters and it’s documented by his shows all the way through, focusing on one of the shows at a time.”
The award winning international fashion journalist and former Daily Telegraph fashion director, Hilary Alexander, also joined the panel to share a few tales of meeting and interviewing McQueen.
Speaking of how the documentary came to be, Gary McQueen said after being approached by Bonhôte, he realised it was the most fitting way to tell his uncle’s story.
“You get approached by a lot of people as a family member, so you get quite dubious and suspicious, but I agreed to meet with Ian.
“I heard what he had to say and what he wanted to do with Lee’s story, and the way he approached it was really quite an artistic way of seeing it. It was a very personal way of telling Lee’s story, and after that meeting I knew it was the right documentary and it had to be made to tell the story in a sympathetic but honest way.”
Gary McQueen, a digital artist in his own right, created the artwork throughout the film, and having previously worked with his uncle on creating digital imagery, reflected fondly on his childhood memories and of working together.
“There’s only ten years between Lee and I, so he offered to babysit while my mum was a black cab driver. His style of babysitting isn’t what you’d consider a Mary Poppins type of babysitting – he used to chase us round the house, pick us up by our hair, or tell us stories like there was an old lady under the bed who’ll get you at night.”
McQueen, known for his love of shocking his audience into consciousness – not just with his fashion, but the world it reflects – influenced his young nephew, as well as countless others around the world, deeply, with his groundbreaking clothes and bold and fascinating shows.
“He really influenced me from a young age, particularly with the films he’d get us to watch – the kinds of things that would really inspire young minds. It was quite a profound influence on me – I used to watch him draw, at the time he was probably still at St Martins and 18 or so. He’d be sketching away, and I’d be drawing my pictures as well.”