God Save McQueen

On the weekend, I successfully talked an app-sourced date into accompanying me to a screening of the McQueen doco that’s out at the moment. I’ve long been a little more interested than most (and, I’ll confess, than is healthy) in the rise and tragic demise of Lee Alexander McQueen, and my hapless date was probably right to feel a bit used in coming along – it’s true that I just wanted someone to be a sounding board for my gushing fanboy commentary.

My point, though, is really about how strange it is for artistic minds like Lee McQueen’s to be operating in the commercially oriented industry of fashion. This tension creates a certain kind of professional pressure and cult of identity, which seems to have contributed to innovative character and cultural success of McQueen’s work, as well as to the unhappiness that would lead to his untimely death.

What is it about the fashion that attracts people who, ostensibly, might be better suited to more purely artistic pursuits? Well, in McQueen’s case, it seems to be that he primarily saw himself as a craftsperson, with the conceptual qualities of his work emerging as a secondary interest as he became enmeshed in the milieu of high fashion over time. In a sense, it seems that his sense of artistry and imagination was, in fact, sharpened by working in fashion, rather than dulled.

This is all speculation, obviously. I never knew the guy. I do, however, recommend checking out the documentary – even my date said he quite enjoyed it.