LONDON, United Kingdom — “Lee's story is an amazing story that needed to be told, and to be told on the big screen and to be told with the positive and the negative,” Ian Bonhôte, one of the makers of the Alexander McQueen documentary, tells BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks. “We worked really hard in trying to make it accessible through the human story.”
Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui are co-directors of "McQueen," which premieres in the UK on June 8. Spanning the breadth of Lee McQueen’s career, from his graduation show at Central Saint Martins in 1992 to his last days working on his label before his suicide, the documentary takes on a cinematic approach to broaden its appeal outside of fashion circles, and focuses on McQueen’s emotional and human journey.
The cornerstones of the film are, of course, McQueen’s shows — both for his namesake label and for Givenchy. “The specific shows really began to materialise in front of us as these are the anchors on which we must thread the whole story,” Bonhôte says. From the controversial Highland Rape collection to Lee’s last show, Plato’s Atlantis — which Ettedgui describes as “a pageant of McQueen's brilliance.”
While the myth was in his fashion shows, it was also among McQueen’s inner circle — his family, friends and colleagues. How did Bonhôte and Ettedgui gain access to those closest to Lee, to film hours of interviews? “I think there was a sort dignified silence that the inner circle that were around him at the time he died wanted to take,” said Ettedgui. But many of them opened up, providing deep insight into McQueen as a brother, a son, a friend and a co-worker.
Threading the line between McQueen’s life and the controversies and gossip that surrounded him was tricky, the co-directors argue. “We didn't want to avoid the darkness, because how can you possibly make a film about McQueen and avoid the darkness?” asks Ettedgui. While his darkest moments are addressed, the makers don’t dwell on them, attempting to portray a balanced story.
“Lee is Lee, with his pride, the good and the bad side,” says Bonhôte. “He's been a hugely inspiring force in our lives and we have to let go now and give it to the audience,” adds Ettedgui.
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