Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I gathered with friends to see “McQueen,” the documentary on the late designer Alexander McQueen. As we learned about his innate creative genius and craftsmanship, about the childhood trauma that he drew upon for his collections; his respect for women; the intensity and passion he brought to his designs and tailoring, the tragedy of his loss hurts deeply. McQueen died by suicide in 2010. He was 40.
The film includes interviews with friends and collaborators who loved him, whose creative limits were pushed and nurtured by McQueen, and who miss him greatly. Through their stories and the archival footage, we can feel the energy he brought to his work and environment — and we are left thinking we should all be so lucky to work around a creative visionary, someone whom we don’t want to disappoint, who inspires us to do better for ourselves and for a greater purpose. In this case, it was fashion as art and political commentary.
McQueen was an artist with a lot to say about the demeaning ways women have been treated throughout history. But with his designs, he also highlighted their strength and celebrated their beauty and empowerment. In reading a Vogue profile on his successor, Sarah Burton, I learned she has strived to maintain his admiration and respect for women with a softer, more peaceful spirit.
Several of McQueen’s friends and his mother have said he was a sweet and sensitive man; we do not, however, see that in his designs. But in pulling his vision out of the darkness out of the darkness that tormented him and was a signature of his designs, it appears Burton has kept his legacy alive.