Wednesday, 2 March 2011

'he is a wild bird'

Last night, I watched 'McQueen and I' - a fascinating look at Alexander McQueen's career and his relationship with Isabella Blow.

McQueen's shows will always be known for their spectacle, mood and theatre, and this programme is a must-see even if it is just for the brilliant footage of the shows.

The commentary on the programme annoyed me a bit though as it referenced how McQueen presented the women in his shows in a very dark and disturbing way, as if this was a problem. This, in my opinion, was the intrigue: it was part of the narrative, it was part of McQueen.

The 2001 Spring Summer Show saw press gazing at a mirrored cube before the show started, making them feel, as one journalist on the programme recounted, increasingly uncomfortable as they were staring at themselves. This box then fell apart to reveal a moth covered woman, her face masked. Models then cavorted in asylum-trances inside the box, which of course, we were all staring fixedly into.

Our consciousness of our own image can send our minds into savage havoc, and yet at the same time, the visual is the only mode to express our inner thoughts and feelings in such a potent fashion. Our image, and how we are viewed by others, can be our personal war, but it is also our own exclusive outlet.

This show seemed to be to almost be a reflection of this and also probably a reflection of the creative turmoil Isabella must have gone through during that time of her career as a successful but often sacked editor of the world's best fashion magazines. Or even the madness that Lee felt himself, as a designer at the top of his game with the whole world watching him and his next collection.

Isabella referred to Lee as a wild bird, and it's a good description. In his 2001 show, he is a crow, viewing a wasteland and gathering glitzy pieces to play with in the gloom. In his Givenchy days, he was almost like a race pigeon, sent out to win and always coming home for more, tag on leg. And in his final show, he was the dove - a now and ever more ethereal vision.

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