Hot Docs, Seattle, Victoria, Nashville, Dallas, Biografilm, Sydney, Melbourne, Revelation Perth, Frameline, Provincetown
A portrait of late fashion designer Alexander McQueen.
Rising from working class beginnings in London, Lee McQueen made his mark in art school and Savile Row, finding a patron and muse in influential scenester Isabella Blow, who encouraged him to use his more posh sounding middle name “Alexander” when launching his own line. His fierce originality and showmanship garnered international acclaim from the 1990s through his suicide in 2010. Bonhôte and Ettedgui’s exploration of the maverick’s life and career makes great use of footage from his vibrant, confrontational shows, combined with candid interviews with friends and colleagues. The doc’s production design is worthy of their over the top subject, but, even given that, the skull motif animation treatments that serve as section dividers cross the line into distracting fussiness and overstylization. At times, the filmmakers presume too much foreknowledge from viewers about relatively specialized or arcane fashion world details – for example, Blow’s identity and importance to London’s fashion scene is essentially assumed to be self-evident – making this feel a bit too insider. Still, Bonhôte and Ettedgui ably capture McQueen’s prodigious, if troubled, talent and vision.