Portrait by Tim Walker
The McQueen film is exquisite, disturbing and ultimately a display of genius - just like the man himself. The candid footage of Alexander McQueen in his studio and the interviews with family and friends feel real, confronting and intimate. For me having been a student at Central St Martin’s (albeit a lowly foundation student) when Galliano and McQueen were rocking the fashion establishment to their very core (at Dior and Givenchy respectively) it evoked a special time in noughties London.
On my first day at St Martins we were told to “forget everything you learnt at school”, not just to torch the rule book but rewrite it completely and that your dark side was something to be celebrated and explored - your demons could be on full display. With McQueen hitting the front pages of The Sun as often as making front cover of the fashion mags - anything felt possible but we felt the same pressures too.
Surrounded by the most talented and diverse crowd of people in a tiny pocket of London we worked endlessly through the night to bring our visions to life only to have them ripped apart by tutors the next day. We partied hard too - Cafe de Paris with the Chelsea set one night, the Fridge in Brixton with the club kids the next and taking over everywhere from tiny insalubrious joints on Greek st to the local pub next door to college (to the disgust of the landlord "effing layabout students. BUY A PROPER DRINK"). I mainly caught up on sleep on the N20 from Tottenham Court Road back home to the 'Burbs only to get up and do it again the next day and the next day.
The industry is relentless, its demand for talent voracious and for most of us we never get to ride the crest of the wave for very long, if at all. I think deep down McQueen knew this - he knew he was going to be a bright flame in a dark world and although his end is ultimately very tragic. His visions will long endure.
So put your demons on display and write your own rules... Just don’t bring dead foxes into college ok?
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