I’ve got to stop reading about Alexander McQueen, as I’ve started dreaming about him and his work and, quite frankly, it’s a bit freaky. However, I read this quite quickly, as it was more focused than Gods and Kings, which I recently reviewed (mainly because this one is only about McQueen.)
I think one of the reasons I feel an affinity with McQueen is his working class background, something I can and do identify with (although he was fifteen years older than me and I think I would have found him terrifying if I met him in real life.) Whereas the previous book reviewed on this blog focused on the business side of his life, here McQueen’s personal life is fully explored, with the blessing of his family. Lots of photos and anecdotes are peppered throughout the book and, although some of the people featured seem to be the same ones who will talk about him at the drop of a hat/for exposure, there genuinely seems to be warmth and love present in many of the stories, which I think is crucial, as it would be so easy for McQueen to come across as an egotistical, drug-addled, stereotypical fashionista (which he could clearly also be at times.)
The book deals with this duality of McQueen’s life: working class boy, Lee, who was always ready with a laugh and adored his family and friends; and the world-famous designer Alexander, immensely talented, addicted to cocaine and the high-life. It reads like one of those ‘tell all’ biographies of old Hollywood stars- and I wonder what the McQueen family thought of the final product.
I would recommend you have a book of McQueen’s fashions nearby when reading this, as you will want to check what things looked like (my favourite collection, I think, is The Girl Who Lived In The Tree, one of the later ones) and I had the excellent catalogue of the current Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A, which I was able to borrow from the local library. It’s an expensive book, so do see if you can borrow it- the other sourcebooks were nowhere near as good and often got things wrong, I found.
Anyway- to sum it up, this is a fairly detailed account of the life of one of our greatest modern designers, and well worth a read if you’re preparing to go to the exhibition and want to know more about the man behind the genius on show.