The other night I left work with no plans and found myself wandering into the Angelika Theater alone in search of air-conditioning and entertainment. As a longtime fan of Lee Alexander McQueen’s work, I was thrilled to find McQueen, a new documentary on his short life and exceptional career.
I did not expect to leave the theater blotchy-faced from sobbing. Except, I should have known better given my similar reaction to the MET’s 2011 “Savage Beauty” exhibit, celebrating his gone-too-soon talent.
Co-directed by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui, the film combines archival, behind-the-scenes footage from McQueen’s early days and intimate interviews with his friends and confidantes. Glimpsing into these never before seen perspectives gives new depth to the intricacies of McQueen’s collections. The narrative arc of McQueen follows that of his career, building and accumulating momentum until his eventual breaking point, concluding in a heartbreaking unraveling.
Seeing videos from his collections, rendered larger than life across the big screen, brought me right back to my 13-year-old self, fangirling over his 3-D flowers from 2007 and rainbow prints from 2008. I remember feeling his loss so profoundly. In the heat of my first real New York summer, his vision for fantastical, historically researched, boundary-pushing, and emotive clothing was revived for me, reminding me exactly what it was that made me fall in love with fashion in the first place.