McQueen (2018) Movie Script

-(lndistinct dialogue on TV)
-(Dog barking)
-(McQueen) Sminky-Pinky.
-(Mira) You mean like a...
(Mira) A "V"? All right.
(Ads playing on TV in the background)
(Tape plays)
(McQueen speaking)
(Slow song playing)
(McKitterick) Lots of people say,
"I discovered Alexander McQueen."
But you don't discover talent.
Talent's there.
You open doors for talent. You push it
through or you help it along.
No one discovered Alexander McQueen.
Alexander McQueen discovered himself.
(McKitterick) Lee had this
very strange CV.
(McQueen) I wasn't very good at school.
I was always drawing clothes
in every lesson,
in science, in biology and...
But I used to enjoy art most.
(Joyce) When he left school
he wasn't sure what he wanted to do.
He was out of work.
Looking for work, I should say.
Because my husband's very strict
on the children going out to work.
We was watching
a television programme one evening
and they was saying
that they couldn't get apprentices
to work in Savile Row.
So I just said to him,
"Why don't you go and try?
"Just knock on the door.
They can only either say yes or no."
And that's exactly what he done.
(Hitchcock) Anderson & Sheppard
started in 1906.
We like to do things
slightly different to other people.
We have a house style.
That's what we're going to teach
the apprentices to make.
(McQueen) I was taught by a master
tailor from County Cork in Ireland.
(Hitchcock) He was the best tailor
we had on the premises.
You start off padding collars,
putting in pockets,
but you're expected
to make a full jacket
ready for fitting
by the end of the first year.
As soon as you put it on,
it should fit like a glove
and you know it's made for you.
(McQueen) I knew I couldn't survive in a
place like that for the rest of my life,
cluttered in a small workshop,
sitting on the bench, padding lapels.
But I did have a passion
and I was good at it.
I was good at tailoring a jacket.
I was quick at learning trousers.
I wanted to learn everything.
"Give me everything."
(Tatsuno) It was
the beginning of the '90s
when I had a bespoke tailoring shop
in Mount Street
and he just walked in one day.
He looked like a skinhead,
but he just told me
he can cut a frock coat
much better
than the 50-year-old tailor I had.
So I was very curious
and I just told him,
"OK, show me what you can do."
I never really made clothes
in a traditional way.
I was experimenting myself
in how to create structure
and volumes.
I 'd begun to just take in material,
any material.
And, by putting them all together,
somehow you can start to create
this three-dimensional form.
He wanted to understand
why I'm doing it this way
or that way.
(Janet) When Lee was 17, he said,
"I'll make you a couple of skirts.
And I've got to say,
they fitted like a glove.
They were so fitted to my body
I couldn't even
move my legs, hardly,
but I used to get compliments
on this skirt.
I did use to wonder,
"I hope he finds the right thing
for himself in life."
(McKitterick) He was a sweet boy
from the East End,
looking to make money.
We needed technical help,
machinists, pattern cutters.
We needed people
who had hands-on experience
in making clothes.
He gave me no attitude,
was never late,
always knew what he was doing,
always delivered.
He listened continually
to Sinad O'Connor, which was quite odd.
No one else liked
Sinad O'Connor at the time
but he really liked her for some reason.
I always remember him with his Walkman
on, listening to Sinad O'Connor.
(Man) Three, two, one, ignition.
(McKitterick) Red or Dead was
this very young streetwear company.
When I said to him
that the Space Baby collection
was based on the anniversary
of the men landing on the moon,
he was like, "What?"
He didn't know
that you could take a subject
that had no relation to clothing
and actually get inspiration from that
to design clothing.
So, he didn't understand
this idea of visual research
or historic references
or sexual references.
(Control) We copy you on the ground.
(Armstrong) The Eagle has landed.
He must have
asked me questions,
"What can I do next?
How can I push myself forward?"
And at the time
all the designers in Italy
were opening diffusion lines.
He went to Italy with no language,
no place to stay,
no money, no qualifications.
I thought, "Within a week he'll be back
with his tail between his legs."
A week later, maybe 10 days,
I get a call from Lee from Italy.
(Chuckling) He'd landed a job
as an assistant for Romeo Gigli.
To say I was shocked
was an understatement.
(Gigli) I said to him,
"OK, I'm looking for a new jacket.
"I have in my mind this shape
"but my tailors,
they cannot reach that shape.
"Maybe you can help me to do it."
And we start to do that jacket
and within the first fitting
I say, "No, it's wrong.
That is not what I'm looking for."
So with the tailor,
with Lee, they did one more.
We did the second fitting
and again I take out the lining,
look inside the jacket
and it was wrong.
Third fitting I say,
"No, it's incorrect."
And I take out the lining
and inside the jacket
Lee wrote with a black pen,
"Fuck you, Romeo."
That was a time
when I was looking for new shapes,
for shapes, for shapes...
And he was looking
so deeply and hard.
He was really deeply looking
to understand everything.
He was leaving my studio
because he wanted to study
more and more and more.
(Bobby) You can't teach talent.
But what you can do is make them better
at what they do, or more professional.
And to me, the whole thinking
behind this MA
was to make them work in teams,
working together,
as you do in the fashion world.
I saw this unprepossessing,
I must say,
very shabby,
very unattractive...
I hate to even say this
but it was true.
...boy with a bundle of clothes
over his arm outside my office.
So I said to him,
"Who are you looking for?"
And he said, "I've come to see you."
But I had no job,
which he said he was after.
The whole thing intrigued me.
He was passionate.
And to me this is the secret, really.
You... If you tap into that.
(Chuckles) I found myself saying,
"Well, I think you should come
on my course."
And I couldn't offer him money.
That was really sad.
And it was patently obvious
he had none.
Aunt Renee said
she had money in the bank,
sitting there not doing anything,
and she would rather help Lee.
She'd worked
in the rag trade.
She knew
that Lee had talent.
And he came back and said,
"My aunt is going to pay the fees
"and I'm coming."
(McQueen) Saint Martins
was the place to go.
But what I liked about it
was the freedom of expression
and being surrounded
by like-minded people.
We got on really well because
we had the same sense of humour.
And he laughed all the time,
so he was just funny and disrespectful.
And he'd do catwalk shows down
the corridor. He'd just muck around.
Whenever he could muck around,
he'd muck around.
I was teaching there
at the time as well.
And he was not frightened to tell
people, "I know better than you."
Even the tutors.
He was a bit of a nightmare student
because he knew so much.
I'm sure he was a pain
and did interrupt people.
He didn't actually dare interrupt me.
But he used it. He used it
as I intended him to use it.
And he'd come to a painting or a book
and, not having had a formal education,
it was all new to him.
And that was it.
He reinterpreted things in his way.
It wasn't filtered through,
as with a lot of us
who'd had
more conventional backgrounds.
I loved that.
He knew where to go for everything.
London was his town.
"Where do I get my buttonholes?"
He'd go,"You want to go
to Martin in Soho."
"If you want fabric, then you want to go
to Berwick Street, Shepherd's Bush."
He would take me to gay bars
and he would take me to lesbian bars
and he'd, like, sit me there
and he'd go,
"This is what you want.
This is what you want."
I'd go, "No, I just want to go home.
Can I just go home and do my homework?"
(Bobby) The course always ended
with the degree show.
No other college
had ever been invited, as lwas,
to show during British Fashion Week.
(McKitterick) He called me when he
was finishing the final collection
and asked me to come in to have a look
and talk to him about it.
It had all the elements.
H had the history of the East End.
It had the darkness,
Jack the Ripper stalks his victims.
It had the research.
It had a really great story behind it.
(Rebecca) He was reading books
like Perfume,
which is all about the murder of women,
and he had a very dark side to him
as well,
so he was drawing
from a of these influences
and then creating something
very beautiful out of it.
(Fast-paced instrumental music)
(Blow) The pieces went past me
and they moved in a way I've never seen.
And I wanted them. They were modern.
They were classical.
He would do a black coat
and then he'd line it with human hair.
And it was blood-red inside
so it was like a body.
It was like flesh with blood.
And I just thought,
"This is the most beautiful thing
I've ever seen."
it was about sabotage and tradition,
which is the perfect combination,
and beauty and violence.
All the things that t suppose
the '90s represent.
(Reporter) How difficult is it
to discover genius?
(Blow) Not at all difficult,
cos they have it and I spot it.
If you're interested
in late 20th-century clothes,
Isabella Blow is a big player.
(Blow) I was at American Vogue
and Anna Wintour discovered me
and I worked for her
and then I went to British Vogue.
McQueen was her knight
and she was gonna take him to the top.
She was determined.
(Blow) I just knew. I rang up his mother
and said, "You've produced a genius."
You know, he's like
the Saint Laurent of the year 2000.
And his mother said to him,
"Look, there's this mad woman
who keeps trying to call us.
"She wants
some of your clothes."
I rang between six
and eight times a day.
Finally I got a little voice
on the end of the line, "Hello?"
I said, "Can I make an appointment
with you? My name's Isabella Blow."
I don't know to this day
if he knew who I was.
No, I just wanted the money.
I was desperate for money.
I wasn't interested in him either.
I just wanted the clothes.
I didn't give her no money off.
I said, "That's 350, love.
You can take it or leave it."
And she loved that.
(Bobby) It wasn't until I went
to the Bluebird Garage collection
that he did that I...
Well, I just thought,
"What have I unleashed?"
And he walked across
and said, "I owe it all to you,"
which I thought was very, very sweet
because it was far from true.
He'd worked every...
Every inch of the way himself.
(Triumphal music)
Every fashion designer wants
to create an illusion,
create things that disturb
and fascinate people.
Clothes are really beautiful
to work with,
but there's also a reality outside.
Some people don't want to hear it.
It's all lovey-dovey and everything's
fine in the world all the time.
And I tell it the way it is.
(Andrew) In the '90s,
you used to make clothes to go out.
You used to make something
just for that night.
You're going to this nightclub.
This person is on, or that DJ.
"Right, what are we going to do?"
t think Lee took everything.
t mean, that's one of Lee's strengths.
He took a lot of Bowery/s aesthetic.
It's transgressive, it's in-your-face.
And he thought,
"How does this translate onto a runway?"
Lee also used that language of fetish
in terms of rubber
and latex and leather
and put it into his fashion design.
We started going out with each other
but part of me was thinking,
"But also it's quite useful
cos I can sew as well. "
It was literally anyone that could sew.
It didn't matter whether they were
any good at sewing or not.
Were they willing to come
and sit in the studio
for, like, 16 hours a day?
And were they going to be
fun to be around?
Lee was the badly-behaved,
naughty school boy
that was always doing pranks
on people in the pub,
and that's the person
that I liked and loved.
(McQueen speaking)
(Upbeat music plays)
(Mira) At the time I first met Lee,
lwas living in Hoxton Square,
and one day in pops this guy
and I kind of figured he had rented,
you know, the downstairs.
"Come in for a cup of tea.
Come in for a cup of tea."
And he asked what I did.
I said, "Oh, you know, I do grooming
for men, hair and make-up. "
And he goes,
"Oh. I'm having a show soon.
"Would you do the hair and make-up
for the guys?"
And I was like,
"Don't you need to see
some of my work first?"
I'd never done a show before,
you know, so...
And he's like "No, no, no, no.
I can tell. I can tell."
(Alice) He said to me one day,
"I've decided to do my own collection. "
I remember thinking "How on earth
does he think he's gonna have a business
"and make a collection?
"He's got nothing. He's got no money,
no wherewithal, no studio,
"nobody to support him
and nothing behind him."
And yet he was determined
this was what he was going to do.
I survived on unemployment benefit
and I bought all my fabrics.
I bought all my fabrics
with my dole money.
And I went round to my parents
for baked beans
and tins of soup and things like that.
(imitates violin and laughs)
This is my pooch.
(Alice) He said to me,
"I really need to get a logo."
We asked my boyfriend at the time
if he would design it.
It was my idea
to put the "C" inside the
but then Dave designed the rest of it.
He was fantastic at getting people to do
a phenomena! amount of work for him.
And we were never, ever paid.
In fact, we were paying him
to work for him.
How amazing is that?
(Mira) Just to be pan' of it,
be part of his vision, yeah.
He had that, even from
the very beginning, that pull.
(McQueen) It's so bohemian. Warhol.
(Mira) Dance your way
to success. Come on!
(Cheering and laughing)
(Alice) Isabella was very keen
to call him Alexander.
She thought it sounded better
as a designer.
It sounded grander
and more romantic.
Issie got criticised
for trying to make him posh.
So what? Good for lssie.
She was just trying
to make him successful. And she did.
Alexander McQueen is a brand.
(Reporter) Why do you love her
so much, Lee?
Cos she's the same as me.
She doesn't care what people think.
At the end of the day we're...
We're separate entities
to everyone else
and we have our own
personal view about things.
(Blow) When you fall in love
with something,
you nurture it and you look after it
like it's your... Garden.
People garden, they cook,
they do the same thing.
My ingredients are clothes.
(Plum) She introduced him to everyone.
She championed him.
So I suppose what initially started
as a work relationship for her
became a creative friendship.
(Andrew) She was someone
that was always really excited
and wanted to see the next thing
and the new thing
and wanted to push people.
It was never about money.
I never saw any money going
backwards and forwards between them.
(Detmar) I just remember the laughter,
the exciting creativity of the mid-'90s.
And the adventure they were on this
rocket they shot to the moon.
-l'm sure you're a hungry little thing.
(Detmar) The early days
were very happy days.
They were short times, but they were
beautiful and they were funny.
lssie didn't have children
so she threw her maternal love
to her protg.
I looked forward to seeing him
cos he made me laugh so much.
Issie and McQueen
had a very dirty sense of humour.
McQueen would describe lssie
as a cross between Lucrezia Borgia
and a Billingsgate fish wife.
lssie had a very vulgar humour.
I always found the cocks
and the cunts slightly...
Always a bit... (Laughing) Oh!
I wasn't really into
their earthy humour.
However rude McQueen got,
lssie was even worse.
They loved to play off each other
like that and be outrageous.
I know Alexander loves birds
so I've got this bird hat on
designed by Philip.
We're going to do some falconry tomorrow
cos Alexander's got a very...
He's passionate about birds.
We're going to fly some falcons
tomorrow afternoon.
(Slow instrumental music plays)
(Simon) We did go and stay
at Hines a few times.
You would end up
diving into lssie's dressing-up box
and we'd all be wearing
fantastical costumes for dinner
and things like that.
The world she inhabited
was so far removed
from the world
that any of us had come from.
There was a sort of unreality to it.
Whenever we went to that house,
you just felt so at home.
And I think Lee felt very at home there.
(Detmaq They had this big sister, a fun
person to be with, who was outrageous.
With lssie,
"Be as different as you can.
(Laughing) "And keep going!
"The more different,
the more I love it."
I really don't like the norm.
I don't think it's...
You don't move forwards, seriously.
You just don't move forward
if you play safe.
You really do piss a lot of people off.
(Alice) His first shows
were unbelievable.
People were winded by them.
People walked out.
Quite a few acerbic reviews.
But everything else before
paled into comparison.
I don't wanna do a show
that you walk out of
feeling like you've
just had Sunday lunch.
I want you to come out
either feeling repulsed or exhilarated.
As long as it's an emotion.
If you leave without emotion,
then I'm not doing myjob properly.
So that's that.
That's the thing about Alexander.
I think his clothes are very emotional.
This coat is, like, based on a tramp,
so it's based on someone
who hasn't got any money,
standing in the street,
nowhere to sleep.
You wrap it round yourself,
you feel fantastic.
Then you have
all this passion and love
and slashing
and sex and romance.
(McQueen) The idea of the collection
was never to produce.
The shows were all about publicity
and creating a marketing ploy
for Alexander McQueen, the designer.
(McKitterick) They were
impossible to reproduce.
They were made of plastic bags
or masking tape.
They were show clothes.
(Andrew) Lee started doing bumsters.
These were cut so low that you could see
the model's pubic hair.
(McQueen) It's nothing to do
with pubic hair.
It's just a technical thing where,
as a tailor,
you're breaking up the proportion
of the body
by lowering the trousers,
elongating the torso.
It's nothing to do with bum cleavage.
It's an added bonus
if you've got a nice bum.
(Detmar) He told that mannequin,
"Put your pubic hairs
in Anna Wintoufs face."
It's just funny, naughty behaviour.
You could give Alexander 500
and he could produce
30 pieces of clothing.
(Andrew) He saw some cling film and said
"I'm gonna make a dress out of that. "
'Tm going to put the model in it,
wrap her up."
And he just cut this dress,
put a zip in it
and suddenly that went down the runway.
(Mira) Getting a tyre
and running it over the suit.
Things like that. Just genius.
(Andrew) 4 worth of lace.
Invisible zip, 1.
Sprayed with car spray paint.
They probably cost less than 10,
those dresses, to make.
But, through that weird alchemy
of being cut and made by Lee,
suddenly they're being requested.
Avedon wanted to have
this dress for Sharon Stone.
So it has to be in America now.
"We need someone to fly over
with the dress on Concorde."
That still upsets me to this day.
I didn't get to go on Concorde.
(Both laughing)
It was me.
(Andrew) That's almost the period
where I think,
the madness really kicked in.
(McQueen) The show was brilliant
but I'll wake up tomorrow and think,
"I've got to get a bottle of milk.
Where am I going to get 42p from?"
(Andrew) We went to a McDonald's.
We got two cheeseburgers,
two fries, two Cokes.
And I was that tired
that I just dropped the tray
and then we had to pick
the food up off the floor.
And I thought,
"This is a weird world,
"that you've just shown the finale
of London Fashion Week
"but we haven't got five quid to eat."
That's how it is.
People have got to understand that.
You're doing fucking fab shows
but you've got to start living.
(Andrew) The Clothes Show,
you know, BBC One.
At the time 12 million viewers.
You're 22 years old.
You're not in any of the shots
and you're dictating the terms
on how you're going to appear.
(McQueen) Because I was doing the shows
on money that I got
from unemployment benefit,
I could not afford
to show my face on camera
because I would be arrested
for working as well as signing on.
- Did it piss you off?
-(Woman) No.
It should have done.
That was the idea.
(McQueen) I really worked
that East End yob,
this juxtaposition between a hooligan
and someone that uses a needle.
And people couldn't fathom it.
So it was new.
It was a breath of fresh air.
Savile Row, Cockney geezer,
ding dong, all of that.
He was aware
how seductive that was.
I get a bit annoyed
when I read that.
He was far from a bad boy.
In fact, he was a very loving,
happy child
and very generous.
(Woman) Beautiful face, huh?
(Andrew) I just remember this one time
when I went round his house.
I think I said something was shit
or something in front of his mum.
He turned round,
glared at me and said,
"Don't you fucking swear
in front of my fucking mother."
(Joyce) We were never
what people called poor.
My husband was a London taxi driver.
Even though there was six children,
they all had everything
that they should have had.
I don't know, it just seems...
Like, honest,
an honest place round here.
You know where you stand,
if you know what I mean.
If someone's going to mug you,
they tell you before they do it.
(Laughing) I'm onlyjoking.
(Gary) From our granddads,
he got the sense of humour,
which was, at times, wicked.
(Alice) I think that he struggled
coming out of that background
and going into the world.
I made the choice
to come out to my father.
I'd told all my brothers
and sisters and aunts,
but my father was a London taxi driver.
He would come home at night and say,
"God, I nearly run over
a bloody queer last night in Soho."
I'd have to deal with this.
My dad could be a bit cutting sometimes,
but he was joking.
And if you didn't know him,
you'd probably take that the wrong way.
(Mira) Lee's father was saying,
"Sell your clothes in Brick Lane,"
never quite understanding
what Lee was doing.
(McQueen) My dad wanted me to be
some sort of mechanic or something,
but... It never worked out that way.
(Gary) From our nan
he got that storytelling,
that dark romance
of the Victorian times.
I think that really lent itself
to his visions
of the stories
that he wanted to tell.
(McQueen) It's all right, Mother.
(McQueen) Oh, Mother, come here.
(Joyce) No, I'm too ugly.
(McQueen speaking)
(Andrew) She was very strong
and powerful
and quite a lot was unsaid,
but, my God, you realised there was
a really strong bond between them.
(Alice) She made him feel
like he could do anything.
I always encouraged them to read
and have lots of books
because I myself loved history
and things like that.
That's one about a Highland clan.
(Alice) She was looking into
the genealogy of the McQueen family
and aimed at proving
that the McQueens came
from McQueens of the Isle of Skye.
(Gary) It opened up his world.
He was born in Stratford, but he knew
there was this other life for him
which came from Scotland.
(Alice) She encouraged
the sort of fantasy
and excitement of those stories
and Lee went with it.
(McQueen) You have two types of Scotland
people will associate themselves with,
the Vivienne Westwood romantic Scotland,
swathes of tartan silk.
My ancestry
is the Jacobites of Scotland.
The war of the English and the Scottish
where the English raped loads of women,
killed clans completely off.
It's like a form of genocide.
It was then.
And people don't realise this.
I mean, take Bosnia.
How many dead people have you seen?
There's millions of dead people
in Bosnia.
It's just genocide in the end.
People have got to realise that
it still goes on in the world today.
(Ruti) There was something different
about him.
He had this artistic energy in him
rather than like a fashion designer.
I rang his mother and said,
"I want to work for your son."
She gave rne the address
and I went one morning
and ever since,
we were working every day
on the Highland Rape collection,
trying to get the pieces ready.
(Mira) There were times
when he hadn't yet started working
on the collection and it was due soon
and he would do one drawing
after another,
after another, after another,
after another
and there was a collection
in one evening.
Very quick, very fluid.
(Ruti) He was also very creative
at night.
His adrenaline was much more alive
and we usually used to put music.
(Mira) He would listen to the piano
and it became very important.
The composer Michael Nyman
became part of his team.
I was just enjoying myself
to watch him
because he was sitting
like an old lady,
his needle and his thimble.
You can feel like he's...
It's kind of a therapeutic work for him.
(Alice) He went into a sort of zone.
I always used to say
his eyes went black
because he suddenly was focusing
on what he was doing
and he almost couldn't hear
anybody else.
(Andrew) He could draft a jacket,
just with a piece of chalk,
so he wasn't using measurements.
He could just, from his eye,
read someone's body measurements
and then be able to draw that out
onto a bit of cloth.
At heart, Lee was a romantic,
and that romantic is because
of that physical relationship
to what you produce,
which then comes back
to that idea of craft in a way.
(Gary) The family always got
invites to the shows.
It was very important
that my nan was there.
He really wanted to make my nan proud.
(Janet) Aunt Renee and Mum made sure
that the models had some sandwiches.
Mum would have probably done
her sausage rolls.
We were all, as a group
of young, really cool, English models,
so excited to see this man
that had this reputation.
(Janet) I was just amazed.
All these people, photographers...
And I thought, "My God,
they're all here to see Lee.
"I hope they're not disappointed."
Because I thought,
"This is just Lee from Stratford."
(Fast-paced instrumental music)
The darkness,
the going to the depths
and the recesses of one's mind
to come up with such things
like Highland Rape.
"I'm going to send down loads of girls
who look like they've just been raped."
And then we were all looking
like we'd come out of a hedge backwards
and I was going,
"ls this the hair and make-up?"
(Andrew) They're not easy garments
to look at.
They do look like something
from a crime scene.
(Kidd) I honestly just thought
that he really just didn't like women,
he didn't like the models,
he didn't like anything,
he was just trying to torture us all.
But his vision,
when you actually came down,
and the silhouette
and the way he made you look
was so extraordinary.
I don't think I really understood,
because I was 15 at the time,
exactly what was going on
or the connotations of it.
It wasn't until probably the next day
that I read the newspapers.
And, you know,
there was quite a backlash
of the statement of the show.
I mean, it was pretty intense.
But he made every single headline
and that's what he wanted to do.
And he sure got it.
(Reporter) Judith Church,
MP for Dagenham,
thought there was no excuse
for such a show.
(Church) The very title of the show,
Highland Rape,
has been done to shock people.
It's been done to attract publicity.
It has succeeded
and that, in a way, is sad,
because I think women want
to look at fashion,
but they don't want to see it
in some way
as portraying them as a victim.
(McQueen) I'm not a misogynist.
The idea was saying to the public,
"A man takes from a woman.
The woman's not giving it."
That's what rape is.
My oldest sister was badly beaten up
by her husband.
When you're eight years old and you see
your sister strangled by her husband,
who's now dead, thank God,
you know, all you wanna do
is make women look stronger.
(Andrew) You might not like the honesty
he was presenting you with,
you might find it distasteful,
shocking or aggressive
or misogynistic,
but for him it was his truth.
Those garments all tell you about Lee
and they're almost like confessional.
They do relate to things
that happened in his childhood.
We were just in our flat. It was
literally in the middle of the evening.
And he said,
"Oh, by the way, I was abused
"when I was a child
by my brother-in-law. "
It just came out
and he started crying
and then we started talking
and then, almost as soon
as he started telling me all that,
he said, "Anyway, t don't want
to talk about that any more."
(Gary) The stuff that he saw,
I mean, the violence against my mum,
the abuse he suffered by my dad
and the abuse my mum suffered by Dad...
They had that affinity together.
They shared that, Lee and my mum.
They were both affected
by the same person.
And they had that connection
through that, you know.
And Lee saw my mum
very much like a mother figure
and somebody
that he wanted to protect,
but my mum wanted to protect him
as well.
I had quite a big burden
on my shoulders.
But I'd always felt close to Lee
ln the early years, Lee had seen
things like domestic violence and,
at the time, it must have also had
an effect on his mind.
(Gary) And that stuff he had to get out,
I think it was a way
of exercising his demons,
a way of protecting women and himself
by creating these strong women
who looked like they had armour on.
It was armour for his heart as well,
you know, so...
(Andrew) The relationship
between me and Lee,
I joke that it was four seasons long,
purely because I think those collections
and those shows became markers
in terms of how our work life
was also tied up with our relationship.
And, looking back on it now,
I can see the reasons
why it would be...
How could a relationship work
with all the things
that were going on in his life,
all the things in his past?
I can't think of any relationship
that would be able to deal with that.
(Short bursts
of fast instrumental music)
(Tape plays)
(McQueen speaking)
When you went to St Martins,
in the first year you'd go to Paris
and the idea is that you're meant
to go to exhibitions.
But we would just spend all of our time
wangling our way
into the various shows.
So we went to this show and it was...
It was all very floral
and there was chiffon and Lee was going,
"Well, that's rubbish.
That's rubbish. Oh, my God.
"This is just the worst show ever.
Bloody hell.
"Givenchy, that's a load of crap!
"That's for, like, old ladies.
"I never, ever want to work
somewhere like that."
(Speaking in French)
It was a really exciting time
to be covering the industry
because it was changing,
it was evolving.
People like Bernard Arnault
were buying up small family brands
and then turning them
into global corporations.
And first he brought in John Galliano
and, after two years,
moved John over to Dior
and then needed another
new, young, hot flavour
for Givenchy.
(Presenter) And so he said...
Why did he want you?
He said when I was hired
that I was his horse.
I don't know if that's in looks
or what, but...
(Presenter laughs)
But he said I was his horse
he betted on.
I was living with Lee
when Givenchy called
and he thought that they wanted him
to design a handbag.
And I'm like "Wow. WOW!"
"Cool man!" You know?
Next thing I know
he comes in
and he basically says
they've asked him to be
creative director of Givenchy.
And I was like, "You are kidding me!"
He called me at work and then he said,
"They've offered me this job.
"If I move to Paris,
will you come with me?"
I was like, "Yeah, of course."
It was sort of exciting
and also quite scary as well
because it was still that honeymoon
period of our relationship.
(Presenter) Why did you go to Givenchy,
having already created your own name,
having won British Designer of the Year
twice in a row?
(McQueen) For one reason,
the money was good.
But what do I do
with the money from Givenchy?
I put it straight back into McQueen.
lt helps me employ people for McQueen
to build my own company up.
(Mira) Very talented people
that he brought with him to Givenchy.
What a team!
(Sebastien) He told me,
"I will need a team to work with me
"so I was thinking of you.
"So, think about it
and let me know."
There's nothing to think about.
Of course, I'll take the job.
We took an aeroplane
from City Airport.
We were the weirdest people
in the plane. It was all businessmen.
And we were there
with our bleached jeans,
with a lot of attitude.
(McQueen) Where did you find this?
In Japan.
(indistinct conversation)
(McQueen) Really?
(Man) Yeah.
(McQueen mumbling in French)
-(Man) Oh, oh!
-(McQueen speaks French)
(Murray) There was huge excitement.
Cos imagine being that age
and you're being given
that amount of, one, responsibility
and also that amount of money.
(McQueen) Statue!
(Murray) There's Sebastin Pons.
(McQueen) Hello, Sebastin!
- Sweaty armpits.
-Come on!
God, you've got wet patches.
I think that in the McQueen studio
I was a little bit like the bouffant
because I was
the funny one there.
They were taking the piss
out of my accent.
A Spanish bouffant in a British court.
(Murray) Simon Costin.
(McQueen) God, you're looking
fairly gross today.
I saw myself as the person
that put things into context.
The set was always there to reflect
the sort of untold story
of the collection.
There was Katy, of course,
Katy England.
(McQueen) Katy's the most important part
of McQueen.
Camera up, please.
(McQueen) She's the Tweedledee
to my Tweedledum.
She fuels my imagination.
I help research the collection.
I, erm, bring things to his attention
that I think might be
important in fashion.
Basically, I'm always there
at the right-hand side.
Shaun Leane was very much involved
in the business, making jewellery.
What do you think, eh?
Fancy a dance?
(Leane) For me to do work Hke this
is very good for me.
It allows me to go
from one extreme to the other.
And now I'm going into different areas.
I'm working with body jewellery
and it's really going
into a form of sculpture.
(Murray) Sarah Burton.
Sarah was the intern.
(Sebastin) He looked at us
like the sort of pillars
that would make him feel secure.
(Murray) We had this really nice flat.
I loved the area. I mean...
Place des Vosges. I mean, hello?
(McQueen) Oh, God, that's pretty scary.
(Simon) Thinking about it now,
it was tiny.
When I would come over
to start working on the set,
I'd be on the sofa.
(indistinct background chatter)
(McQueen) Ooh, ooh!
(McQueen) Sebastin!
(Squeals) Oh, language!
(McQueen laughs)
I always ended up
sleeping in Lee's room
because Lee was always
collapsing on the sofa.
(Sebastin) Lee!
- You changed the pillows.
-(McQueen) Yeah, fucking right.
(McQueen laughs)
We had a driver
so we got driven everywhere.
(McQueen) Oh, wait a minute,
he's gone blurry.
That's better.
Say hello to the people
of England.
(All laugh)
(Murray) Such fun.
(McQueen) We can do
some funny tricks.
Hello, I'm on speed, baby.
(All laugh)
When we arrived at Givenchy,
everybody was kind of like
bending their head to him
and calling him
Monsieur McQueen,
which was like, "They're calling you
Monsieur McQueen? Here?"
(McQueen) Cath! Woo-ooh!
(McQueen laughs)
(Sebastin) When we arrived
I think they were in shock.
The way we dress,
the way we work
and the jokes we made.
(Simon) Obviously it was very grand,
with chandeliers,
so it was very different
from the working environment in London
which was a very, very small room,
chaotic, with stuff everywhere.
(McQueen) Here I have my own office.
I pick up the phone
and I get what I want.
(Laughs) Cos I want it,
I want it, I want it!
So I ask for it.
(Murray) We was just like a bunch
of young kids running about in Givenchy.
(Presenter) Were they surprised
you were chosen?
Well, I think that it put most people
in a coma when I got chosen!
(Sebastien) All of a sudden,
we're there,
sitting in Hubert de Givenchy's house,
looking out the window
and you see the Balenciaga sign
and you knew
that Yves Saint Laurent was there
and knowing that John Galliano was there
at Avenue Montaigne,
just a few yards from there.
And there we are
with Alexander McQueen,
being the new talk of the town.
And I felt special.
(Murray) He was trying
to find his feet there.
He obviously had to make
a huge impression
because it was his first collection.
(Sebastien) I remember telling Lee,
"Everybodys looking at us
and we have nothing."
And he always would answer,
"Don't worry, Sebastin,
we'll get it done."
(Tape plays)
(McQueen speaking)
(McQueen) This is Paris and Paris chic.
This is Givenchy, this is not McQueen.
This is where elegant suits are made
and fantastic fabrics are used.
I mean, it's going to take
my own label, McQueen,
another 40 years
to get the reputation this one has.
(Sebastien) I remember once
we saw this beautiful work.
Lee asked Catherine DeLondres,
who was in charge of the atelier,
"Who's done this fabulous work?"
"She's not allowed to come in."
He's like, "What do you mean,
she's not allowed in?
"Please let her in."
I remember from that day on
Lee wanted to see the person
who has worked directly
with the garment.
And I think they loved that.
(McQueen) This is the Bet Lynch dress.
And we also treated it,
bonding plastic over the top
for raincoats
so you get the whole ensemble.
None of us spoke French
and the French atelier
didn't speak English.
Lee would actually draw in the air
how it would have to be.
-(Catherine in French)
-(McQueen) Yeah. Yeah, it's OK.
(Catherine and McQueen speak French)
(McQueen) Oh, it's OK.
I thought it was just pantalon.
(Catherine speaking French)
(Catherine laughs)
They're quite precise and like...
They, like, take the threads out and...
I just get the scissors
and go, "Whack it off!"
And they go... (Muted scream)
Like that.
And I go, "lt's OK, it's only clothes."
(Mira) I'll never forget
the expression on her face.
But in the end she saw
exactly what he was doing.
She was in awe.
A very mutual, you know, respect
grew between the two of them.
(McQueen) Haute couture is about
the atelier. I come from Savile Row.
So I have great respect for the tailors.
They deserve just as much praise
as I do.
(Sebastian) Lee, one day he said,
"Where can we go and eat'?
"Where do the workers eat?"
And then Catherine said,
"There is a canteen
"in the basement for the workers."
And Lee was like, "So let's go there."
When we went down there,
the people, they're flipping out.
"Alexander is eating with us!"
They couldn't believe it.
These fashion houses, they treat
the designer like he's a king.
And they treated Lee
like a king,
but Lee didn't want
to behave like a king,
Lee wanted to behave
like a regular person.
(McQueen) OK.
The ideas for the show,
they grew out of the collection
as the collection developed.
He would pull threads
and stories out of that.
And there was always mood boards
and things pinned all over the walls.
Everyone fed in.
it was a very group practice.
But Lee was the spider
in the centre of the web, as it were,
pulling everything together
and distilling
what it was that he had in his head.
I remember the fraughtness
about a week before the show
with things coming down and not right
and things having to be changed.
It was really insanely crazy.
The pressure was super intense.
(Sebastien) In 25 days
to put a 55-outfit collection together
is not an easy task.
(Simon) The first couture show
had the theme of the Golden Fleece,
Jason and the Argonauts.
(Murray) They wanted it to be amazing.
My first feeling
from Alex's description was,
they had to be warriors
mixed with goddesses.
I said, "We do horns?"
He said, "Yeah, but do big."
I said, "But how big?"
He said, "You know Genghis Khan?
"He's the junior size.
"Give me the senior."
It's the 19th of January 1997
and, as they say in the trade,
we're about to witness a fashion moment.
At the tender age of 27,
British Designer of the Year
Alexander McQueen
is about to show
his first haute couture collection.
(Dramatic orchestral music)
(Nicolas) Every model had
to have a character,
an identity, a signature.
Every single girl could have been
a show on her own.
(Sebastian) Where did the inspiration
come from? He told me, "From the logo."
The logo is the Gs,
which looks like a Greek motif,
and the Givenchy label
is white and gold.
(Kidd) Always with Lee's collections,
there were some pieces where you'd go,
"God, that's rather risqu."
I think a tot of the press
focused on the ones
that were a little bit more crazy
or a little bit, you know, unwearable.
French designers
were complaining and saying,
"Oh, they're not even French
and they're taking over Givenchy.
"Look what he's doing to Givenchy."
I think it was them saying,
"I'm still gonna be who I am,
"regardless that you put me
in this posh space.
"I'm still who I am."
I liked that, that they stayed true
to who they were.
They actually brought England into Paris
in their own unique way.
(Nicolas) People were talking,
fashion editors.
"He has a big mouth.
He has a big head.
"Oh, the British!
What does he think?"
And then I understood that basically
the world was against him.
(Presenter) And you do your first show.
(Presenter) It's not a huge success.
(McQueen) No, that's true.
-(Presenter laughs)
-Well done.
They were wishing
to see him crash and be destroyed.
They have claws and knives
and they're throwing everything
into your back,
which is fine cos I'm a good fighter!
(Both laugh)
I remember us afterwards.
You know, Lee was...
Oh, hellish, yeah.
That was a really horrid night.
lt was a difficult night after that.
A few punches and arguments.
(Blow) I think he's done a lot
with the house,
because Givenchy
have had a lot of press.
It's a more difficult thing to deal with
cos McQueen is McQueen in London.
Givenchy is taking over
from another man in Paris.
As Alexander says,"lt's like taking
a dinosaur out of the sea."
And I think in one season
he's done that.
So I think in a year
he will have done 20 times that.
(Detmar) Givenchy changed everything.
The fun times were over.
I had an accountant who spoke French.
They were going to Paris
to sign the deal.
And I said, "Please, make sure
lssie gets something out of it."
And then I kind of did ask McQueen
and he said,
"lssie and I are not about money."
When the money did come
and Alexander cut her out...
That was very tough.
Their friendship changed.
She was so hurt at this rejection.
She'd have created a buzz.
She'd have had a salon at Givenchy.
She'd have made it
the most happening place in Paris.
(Murray) I do remember going to Hilles
straight after the takeover at Givenchy.
You cannot imagine the tension
between the two of them in this room.
These designers think
that you made me.
- And it's never been about that.
-No, they don't.
- I know that that's...
-But they do!
You see it all the time in the press!
They say, "Oh, Isabella Blow,
"responsible for Philip Treacy
and Alexander McQueen."
-(Blow) No, they say...
-They do just say that!
(McQueen) But it's never been
about that for me and you.
Whether I was part of it?
Does that annoy you
that they put a strap on it?
"As discovered by Isabella Blow."
Does it piss you off?
No, not at all, because lssie
has helped me a lot in that way,
but not in the way that she's like...
She does it
because she loves my clothes,
not because she loves me.
Exactly. That's the point.
Because I can't stand her guts!
I'm joking.
(Murray) I do remember sitting there,
thinking to myself,
"Please, lay off lssie
because she's done nothing but help you,
"but you seem to be giving her
a really difficult time."
(Detmar) Issie kingmaker.
This is the man she championed
and then he resented that
and wanted to be his own man
so there was no position
for Isabella Blow at Givenchy.
And I remember
McQueen turned to me and said,
"I'm the tycoon now, Detmar."
And it wasn't meant affectionately.
We had a policy. Don't show hurt,
don't show weakness.
Keep your head up,
keep proud, keep fighting.
Something will turn up. It's got to.
His star ascended
and hers didn't as much
and, you know,
he slightly abandoned her.
(Detmar) Then Issie suddenly got
this job at The Sunday Times
and McQueen said,
"You've been resurrected, lssie. "
And I thought, "No thanks to you, mate."
(McQueen) I saw myself within the press
and in the public eye as the gazelle.
And the gazelle always got eaten.
And that's how I see human life.
We can all be discarded quite easily.
The fragility of a designer's time
in the press.
You're there, you're gone.
It's a jungle out there.
(Sebastin) I went to his London studio
and he was talking
about a haute couture show.
"I tried to please them
and then I fucked it up.
"I'm gonna do my own thing.
"It's gonna be very McQueen,
the next one.
"Fuck you! Fuck you, all of you.
I'm gonna show you."
(Simon) We went from this sort of...
The hallowed halls of Givenchy
into the sort of rough,
gritty Borough Market,
people just sweeping
all the rotting fruit and veg up.
(McQueen) It's nice to show them
the rough pan' of London,
make them a bit scared, look over
their shoulder once in a while.
(Nicolas) It's nothing to do
with couture.
Now you've got your own studio.
We're in another chapter,
in another world, in another McQueen.
All camera crews
go round the front gate.
(Simon) The London shows were always...
The audience,
the expectation, was so great.
The shows in Paris
were far more formal and reserved.
People would scream
their heads off in London.
(Kidd) It was crazy, people literally
fighting to see the catwalk.
(Murray) Lee just running
from model to model
and screaming and shouting at everyone.
(McQueen) Simon, we want to start
the show!
(Shaw) And just always moving,
always dressing, always stressing.
Stressing and dressing,
actually, together.
(Woman) Are we all standing by,
ready to go?
(McQueen) OK.
Where's Russell?
ls he out there? ls he getting ready?
(Woman) Yeah.
(Shaw) One of the models was late.
He said, "Fuck her"
and he started the show.
(Kidd) He'd just go,
"Right, Jodes, just go for it. "
He used to psyche me up.
I used to literally get out
onto the catwalk and go...
(Simon) It was really the first time
the collection kind of seeped out
into everything,
from the energy that was in that space
to the effect it had on people.
A sort of angst, an anger and fear,
that was woven through that show.
(Sebastin) We were mind-blown
because they didn't look like models.
They look like animals
with this big hair
and this animal make-up.
It was like...
It was intense.
(Simon) Some students
that weren't allowed in
stormed the barricades
and kicked over a these fire pots.
And then
the fire started.
(Simon) Cos there were a pile
of crashed cars
and I don't think
we'd emptied the cars of petrol.
(Kidd) The car's actually on fire.
There's a fricking car on fire
on the catwalk.
(Simon) And everyone thought
it was part of the show.
"Don't you...dare go out there
with fire extinguishers.
"Just keep sending them out.
Keep sending them out."
(Shaw) Had that not been rectified,
that whole tent
and all the top fashion editors
and models would have been history.
(Kidd) That's just back to typical,
wonderful, mad, brilliant Lee.
(Crowd applauding)
(Slow dramatic orchestral music)
(Tape plays)
(McQueen speaking)
(Reporter) Did you move out of London
and settle in Paris?
I stay in both. I'm here for six months
and in London six months. All over.
My dog is in London and I'm missing him.
I'm missing my dog.
(Reporter laughs)
(Melancholic music)
(Mira) TraveHing between the two cities
to do Givenchy and McQueen,
of course it would take its toll.
But he did it.
And he managed
to make the shows amazing.
(Simon) By that time
there was so much more pressure
because he was also doing his own line
and then having to do
ready-to-wear and couture.
You could see the beginning
of the pressure that Lee was under.
(Sebastin) The favourite company
of LVMH was Dior.
Lee felt they were really
comparing him with Galliano.
And then he sort of found out
that John had
four times more budget than him
to create his haute couture collection.
The house we loved
was the McQueen house.
Givenchy was like a stepbrother.
We knew that our time there
had an expiry date.
When we arrived at Paris
Lee's clothes tended to be very rigid
and I think in Paris
he got to discover
the soft side of things.
We took that
and we brought it to London.
For No. 13, I remember him very happy.
Lee had it very clear in his head
what he wanted to do.
We all left the meeting thinking,
"Oh, my God,
he has it very dear this season."
"He knows what colours,
he knows the shape..."
He himself was feeling at peace.
The first show I ever worked on
with Lee, he liked the idea of robots.
(Sebastien) Lee kept going on about it,
"Oh, I 'm gonna have this robot,
this model. "
And we were like "Oh, no!
The robots again. Oh, my God."
We were just hoping
he was gonna forget the idea.
But then, the night before the show,
the robot did turn up
and we didn't have a dress
to go with the robot.
I went back to the studio.
I was like, "Guys, we need
to make a dress for the finale."
We went under the table
and pulled all these jewels out
and he was like,
"Hey, there's the dress."
(Slow instrumental music)
(Mira) They told him it was impossible
and he said, "No, it's not.
You can do it."
That's what Lee did for people,
he made them do the impossible.
(Joseph) We got some technician down
to operate the robots and Lee was,
"Oh, yeah, let's make the robots
do more of this."
He's directing these robots
like they're actors
and, consequently, you end up
with this incredible choreography,
her spinning.
(McQueen) You had Shalom Harlow there
and these two robots going round.
And the thing is, the robots looked
like they had a mind of their own.
(Pace of music speeds up)
(McQueen) I think that's the first time
that I was blown away by my own show.
That man and machine thing at the end
was... I 'm still in shock, really.
It's the first time I've cried
at my show, so...
(Janet) Lee was living his dream.
He would never have given the work up,
as hard as it was,
because you get that one chance in life.
(Mira) The first time I knew that Lee
was actually getting very famous
was when some stranger
came up to us
in the supermarket
and asked for his autograph.
And I remember him saying to me,
"Oh, my God, that's so scary."
And I realised then
that something was happening.
He was breaking outside of fashion
and becoming famous.
(Alice) That whole celebrity thing,
people chasing after him.
You got the feeling he was saying,
"This is not the important thing.
This fame is nonsense.
"The important thing is what I do."
(Murray) I sometimes wish
he'd had a normal life
and that he could just be
a normal person
in terms of not having that pressure
of everything at such a young age.
(Mira) I knew Lee when he had nothing
but a rubbish bin full of clothes,
so I saw very quickly
him become a millionaire and more.
And the more money he had,
he seemed to be more unhappy.
(Detmar) With the money came drugs.
And that was the sad thing.
(Tape plays)
(McQueen speaking)
(Mira) When did it become bad?
Well, it became bad when the pressure
became too much for him
and he obviously started dealing with it
in ways he shouldn't have,
(Detmar) With cocaine
came an aggressiveness,
that kind of anger,
that sort of paranoia.
He still made some great clothes,
but the personality changed.
(McQueen) All the hard work I do.
I do 10 collections a year.
And it's hard work.
I didn't go to Givenchy,
they come to me.
I got really upset
when people started saying
I was gonna get fired
when it wasn't true.
"Sod the lot of you.
I do what I like."
(Murray) There was definitely a change
and definitely a move
in our relationship.
He had two sides to him.
He could come
in a super cool mood,
like, full of laughter and that,
or it could be
a devil crossing the door.
(Murray) He was obviously
a very troubled person
and the darkness created
this amazing creativity
and genius artist.
T had a tattoo saying McQueen on my arm.
I got it covered up
and when he found out,
that was kind of like the end
of everything.
(Alice) Lee was a romantic.
I think that he flirted always
with the idea of love.
I'm not sure
whether he ever achieved it.
The big thing in his life
that he was in love with was his work.
And also he didn't trust anyone.
He thought,
"lf the boyfriend is not here,
it's because he's with someone else."
And that made him suffer a lot.
(McQueen) People forget fashion 's
always been about attracting a mate.
H's about sexuality,
showing a person who you are.
I'm sorry if you think I'm stupid.
Even though I'm chubby
and I would like to look smaller.
I mean, let's be realistic here.
(Tape plays)
(McQueen speaking)
(Alice) When he changed his appearance,
he said, "I changed myself.
it was the wrong thing to do.
"I lost touch with who I was."
(McKitterick) What was it?
Ten years from Lee, little Lee McQueen,
satin the corner of my studio
sewing away,
to this svelte figure
dressed in Comme des Gargons,
having to become something
he didn't really want to be,
this son' of persona,
this Alexander McQueen.
(Tape plays)
(McQueen speaking)
(Simon) 6:00 in the morning.
(Woman 1) Don't! Don't do that to her.
(Woman 2) Oh, Simon.
-(Simon chuckles)
-(Woman 2) Oh, my God.
(Simon, chuckling)
She's only got a few hours left.
It wasn't fun any more for me.
That was the bottom line.
It just wasn't fun any more.
(indistinct conversation)
(Woman) I don't like the camera much.
Turn it off now.
(Mira) I've never done better work
than my time with Lee.
There was times that were dark with him
and times that were very bright.
And we all chose it.
We all chose to be there.
We all chose to not be there
sometimes as well.
(Sebastin) I collapsed once in Givenchy
because of the pressure
and the workload.
We had a price to pay
and it was our health.
I grew in the company,
of course.
I wasn't the little boy
that I started there.
As I grew up, I realised that...
I was feeling like I was a little bit
claustrophobic of the situation.
(McQueen cheerfully) Sebastin!
(Man) Oh, Sebastin...
(McQueen) Come on, you ugly bitch.
(McQueen laughing) Ooh!
It was like full devotion
to the McQueen house.
Looking after his dogs,
endless hours of working
and weekends either working
or socialising with Lee.
We were going also on holiday together.
I even know how to fake
his signature, you know.
I was feeling, like, trapped.
Even if I loved what I was doing.
I tried to... To speak with him
and that didn't end up that well.
The day I told him I was leaving,
he told me,
"Well, you'd better think about it
because there is no way back."
And I left and it was really sad,
you know.
My leaving, you know, it was...
No one...
No one, erm...
No one came to...
After all the work I've done and...
Lee took things quite to heart
without maybe thinking about
what the other person was going through
or what they needed
and he would take it very personally
when someone would leave
or he felt betrayed.
(Tape plays)
(McQueen speaking)
(Kidd) A lot of people around fashion
do suffer from anxiety,
do suffer from panic attacks,
The industry is feeding this ego.
And it has a very negative effect.
(Joseph) For the Voss show
the original concept was a padded cell.
(Kidd) You start losing who you are
and it becomes a darkness
and a place that you can't get out of.
(Joseph) And, of course, Lee being Lee,
he wasn't happy
with just this one great idea.
You then had to have another box
in the middle
as a kind of theatrical climax
to the show.
When he came and sat down
to explain what it was,
he wouldn't look me in the eye
and he was saying,
"Yes, it's about death
and beauty and rebirth."
"lt's gonna be beautiful."
I really wasn't expecting
to be recreating
Joel-Peter Witkin's
famous incubus image.
(Tape plays)
(McQueen speaking)
(Tape stops)
It's a pretty gruesome image
and I'm thinking, "Oh, my goodness,
am I gonna do this?"
And I was like, "All right,
then, I will do it,
"but I want you to know... "
Serious face.
"...that I 'm doing it for an'. "
And he looked at me like I was mad
and then he looked away and he went,
"I thought we all were, weren't we?"
And he was off.
The actual set had
that Stanley Kubrick 2001
meets an insane asylum feel.
And there was a two-way mirror
so that when the fashion people,
when the fashion press came in
to wait for the show to start,
they were ail looking
at themselves in the mirror.
The music started,
ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum,
with this heartbeat
that went faster and faster and faster.
(Joseph) We didn't know what to expect,
what was gonna happen.
None of the audience knew at all.
(McQueen) Fashion is a big bubble
and sometimes I feel like popping it.
(Joseph) When the show starts,
boom, you can see inside.
But the models
can't see the audience at all.
(Olley) it was suddenly a much more
kind of voyeuristic thing.
The bandages he put
on a the model's heads
so it had that slight feeling of unease
and sickness and a bed/am feel about it.
(Mira) There was one time
that I 'd just come out of surgery
and he came to visit me
and he saw me
and I had bandages everywhere.
I was all bruised up and he was like,
"Fucking wicked!", as he would do that.
He absorbed things like a sponge,
saw the beauty in the ugly,
as with the bandages on me.
(McQueen) Life isn't perfect.
We're not a perfect size-zero models.
But there is beauty
within the eye of the beholder.
(Flatlining beep)
(Olley) For the final image
to be this one
of a large woman with moths everywhere,
it sounds like a joke, really.
But I do think there's a sense of humour
going on underneath there as well.
It's fat birds and moths.
I mean, isn't thatjust
fashion's worst nightmare?
(Tom Ford) Every season
whose collections do I look at?
Whose collections
am I jealous of in a sense?
Whose collections do I think
are absolutely amazing?
(Viglezio) Tom was literally God
ln the industry.
I guess, even if Lee was a rebel
and he was a totally different
kind of person,
he probably was flattered
and, you know, touched
by the fact that someone like Tom Ford
noticed him and wanted him.
Also he was smart enough to know
that he needed that financial help.
(McQueen speaking)
The wonderful thing
about Lee is he is poet...
He won't like this either,
but it's true.
...poet and commerce united,
because he's very practical.
So he understands you can express
whatever you want on the runway
but you need something beautiful
on the hanger to sell to a store.
(Alice) Gucci Group was smart.
They saw what the potential was.
And they offered McQueen a deal
he thought he couldn't refuse
which was, "Here, we'll underwrite
your company
"and give you 50% of the ownership."
They had secret meetings
so none of it would get back to Arnault
and the LVMH people.
They had no idea it was coming
until it hit them.
(McQueen) I was quite adamant
when I talked to Tom
that this was a one-man band.
So they leave you alone
to design what you want?
Hundred percent.
(McQueen) I was looking
for major investment
and then Gucci got in touch and...
The rest is history.
(McQueen laughs)
Au revoir, Givenchy.
(Lively stringed music)
(Music stops abruptly)
(Dog panting)
(McQueen) Got ya!
(Melancholic orchestral music)
(Dogs growling playfully)
What are you doing?
I have an affinity with the sea.
I don't know, maybe cos I'm Pisces.
And when it rains and it snows
and you're near the sea
and you can hear the waves...
H's very melancholic
but it's very romantic.
Sometimes you need to have a break
to get away from everything
and not to think about business
and fashion shows
and to take time out.
I have to be surrounded by nature.
This is older than the house.
This is over 400 years old.
It's an elm tree.
And we uplight it at night.
And, like, it's good inspiration.
(Melancholic orchestral music)
All my friends come here
and, you know,
we have the fire on
and we watch DVDs and listen to music.
It's nice and relaxing.
He would be spending time
with my mum a lot, down the cottage.
(Janet) I'm grateful
that we had that time together.
We'd see more of each other
and we did things together.
(McQueen) My family keep me grounded.
Fashion can be
a very superficial business.
When I started in London
there was nothing like this.
It's as close as we can get
to haute couture in England.
All the people here are students
and it's, like, training them up
and giving them that initial step
into the world of fashion.
Lee knew
from when I was a little boy
that I loved to draw
and I was always very artistic.
A lot of time had passed
and I was working at a rubbish tip
and Lee had the position
for a textile designer on menswear
and that's when he took me on.
Lee was really happy having me there,
firstly on the creative level,
but secondly just having
something that reminded him of his past
and his childhood.
Let's have a look.
(McQueen) There was a period when it
wasn't so good and I had a lot of angst.
It was kind of hard. There was a lot
of confliction in my head
with doing a job that I didn't wanna do,
which was Givenchy.
But I think I've come to a stage where
I just accept this is my fife,
this is what I was born to do.
(McQueen) Oh.
-(Woman) I like you like this.
(Gary) He controlled the vibe
wherever he went.
A lot of the time he was
such a buzz to be around.
The way I put it,
it was like he was the queen bee
with the worker bees responding
to the signals from that queen bee.
And people felt that, you know.
He had this kind of childish way
of mucking about
in the studio environment.
It just made things so fight
and such a nice place to be.
There was always
something creative happening.
That's what excited everybody.
(McQueen) I speak so loudly
in my work itself, you know.
I think everything I do is personal.
Even turning Kate Moss into a hologram
is kind of personal. It's ethereal.
It's a time I'm feeling at one
with the world and heavenly.
If you want to know me,
just look at my work.
(Slow triumphal music)
(Reporter) What does fashion
mean to you?
My life.
(Detmar) lssie died proud,
having achieved beyond her
wildest dreams.
(Plum) The fact that Issie went
was a huge blow to so many people,
including Alexander.
A huge blow.
(Bells tolling)
I saw him at Issie's funeral and
I've never seen anyone so devastated.
I couldn't recognise him.
He sat right behind me
and I turned round and saw this person
in a Highland kilt and a hat,
looking very sad.
I thought, "My God,
it's McQueen, Alexander."
And the look on his face was haunting.
I felt...
I felt for him.
You could just feel...
You could just see the pain.
He suffered.
I could see the love.
Never deny the love.
It was such a love affair
between those two.
lssie seemed to slot in
between a sister and a mum.
She was in the middle
and Lee just loved lssie.
(Detmar) The connection
between Issie and McQueen...
They both carried sadnesses.
Alexander had been abused.
He felt that person
had destroyed his innocence.
Issie had this very sad instance
when she was about five years old
when her brother
that she was playing with died.
Not lssie's fault,
but she always felt responsible for him
and carried that guilt.
There was a destructive side
and destructive issues
which she could never resolve entirely
and they would blow up.
It became more and more serious.
(Blow) I don't take drugs,
but I take medication.
I mean, sometimes I have to take a pill,
just to keep me calm.
The pathway
to her self-destruction was clear.
Issie, perhaps, was thinking
she didn't want to go on forever.
She couldn't rein vent herself
as an old woman
cos fashion 's all about youth.
Discovering people is a big thing.
It's like being a mother.
And the milk's dried up.
(Detmar) Issie was planning her death.
So she wanted
to say goodbye to McQueen.
And she organised a weekend.
She'd gone to a lot of trouble
with a very lovely menu.
And Alexander was exhausted
when he turned up
and just stayed in his room.
Whatever she needed,
he wasn't able to give it himself.
But they did see each other, yeah.
There was a farewell between them.
Big hug and kiss and...
"See you in the next world."
I don't know.
The thing is, when you're ill,
you don't know...
You're very alone.
(Detmar) lssie had ovarian cancer
at the end.
If it was terminal, who knows.
She wasn't interested in chemotherapy.
The last thing Issie said to me,
"Do you remember, Detmar,
when I was a ray of sunshine?"
And I said,
"You'll always be a ray of sunshine."
McQueen is calling his show
"La Dame Bleue."
He's dedicating this show
to his late great friend
and mentor, Isabella Blow.
You could see her
in the clothes.
You could smell
the perfume of her around.
And you could see her children,
in a way, backstage,
Alexander and Philip
going crazy together.
(Mira) What bonded them was lssie.
Isabella single-handedly invented
Alexander and myself
from nowhere
with such conviction that...
We will never experience again.
Her belief in you made you be
the person you are.
(Wings flapping)
(Tinkling screech)
(Melancholic instrumental music)
Bomb Once you sat down
and you saw the set and the music,
you were there and it held you,
because I kept seeing her in the clothes
that he was putting on the catwalk
and the hats, of course,
that Philip was designing.
(Viglezio) It was actually creating
some mythical figure
that was like lssie's presence
at the show.
(Detmar) So emotional.
I just couldn't stop crying,
just bent over double.
And, erm...
Grief is grief.
You have to go through it.
(Bobby) And then to see them come on
and realise how young they were
and they had lost a great friend
and how they had loved her.
(Janet) I think it had a big effect
on Lee.
After lssie passed away,
he was in a really dark place.
(Tape plays)
(McQueen speaking)
(Sebastien) We were watching TV
in the evening
and Lee McQueen
opened the news that day
with the Horn of Plenty show.
And my father was sitting there
and he's like, Sebastian, come over.
"I think it's your crazy friend's
fashion on TV."
And when my father
saw the collection, he was like,
"I think your friend
has gone really mad."
And I think with Horn of Plenty
that really reflects
the fashion world today,
a pile of crap.
(Sebastin) Three years of being apart,
I think a lot and I think
he thinks a lot also.
And when I called him,
it was like, "Hello, Lee?"
(As McQueen) "Hello?"
"Lee, it's Sebastin."
"Where the fuck have you been
all this time, you fucking bastard?"
We just started again like...
Like the brothers we were before.
So then I took the ferry to Ibiza
and I went to his villa.
When he opened the door,
I was in shock
because the person
who opened the door,
he was a different person,
he was really skinny
and looking very fragile
and very, very pale.
When I hugged him,
that's when I noticed
something has changed because...
His body structure was just bones.
There was hardly any muscle
or flesh there.
(Gary) Lee come in with the idea
of having an invitation for a show
that had that metamorphosis.
He wanted his face
to transform into a skull.
Everything in his life had just led
to these feelings of torment.
Lee was HIV positive.
Even though it isn't
a death sentence as such,
I think it was always
in the back of Lee's mind.
You'd feel the bad vibes
when Lee was down.
There was a real depression
that was brought with that as well.
(Slow stringed music)
(Janet) I think the trouble is with Lee,
after a show, when you've done
that build-up and you've worked hard,
you could see
there was a little bit of a down.
And then onto the next show.
Yeah, it was just show after show.
I don't know how Lee did it.
(McQueen) The pressures
kind of quite immense now
because of the Gucci contract
and, erm...
You know, the...
I do the men's now
and now I also do McQ,
so it's about 14 collections
a year again,
same as when I was at Givenchy,
so it's hard work.
(Gary) He would have liked
the idea of moving away
and just leaving everything behind,
but as it was his name above the door
and his reputation as a person
and everything he had built,
he couldn't just abandon it.
If I ever get that old and I'm still
around and I leave my company,
I'll just burn the place down
so there's no one working there.
(Reporter) Really?
So you'd never let someone carry on
the McQueen tradition
or the McQueen brand
if you weren't actively involved?
I don't think so. I mean, it doesn't...
It... Because that person will have
to come up with the concepts for my show
and my shows are so personal.
How can... How can that be?
(Janet) I said, "Why don't you
just step away, Lee, for a year?"
And he just said,
"You don't understand."
He said, "I'm responsible
for 50 people.
"They've got to pay their mortgages.
I can't just stop."
(Viglezio) I was always thinking
there's so much sadness in him,
and that was sad, you know,
because he was this successful,
flamboyant being
who actually was so lonely deep inside.
It can be. lt can be really lonely.
And I think...
You know, I think
there's more to life than fashion
and I don't want to be stuck
in that bubble of, "This is what I do."
It's nice because you see
everyone in the office.
They go home
and they can shut off
but I'm still Alexander McQueen
after I shut the door.
Do you know what I mean?
I've got to go home with myself, so...
You know,
if you've had a bad day,
I've only got myself
to answer to, so...
I mean, with us,
he was, like, behaving...
All right, OK,
but deep inside
we knew that he wasn't...
He wasn't 100%.
He could hear voices.
He was telling me
that they were chasing him.
One thing he used to say,
"Paranoia will destroy ya."
(Joseph) I remember doing a drawing
which, basically, has got
lots of cameras around.
We're thinking, "Maybe
the cameras could be on robots."
It was always about
getting the camera right in your face
and it's surveillance,
making the audience a bit uncomfortable.
(Gary) The idea behind Plato's Atlantis
is where people come from the land
and go back into the sea.
(Tape plays)
(McQueen speaking)
(Tape stops)
(Gary) He loved swimming, scuba diving.
He loved that feeling of just being
in a different world unden/vater,
just away from everything,
almost like you're back in the womb,
You know? And that kind of serenity
you would get through that.
(Sebastin) Plato's Atlantis
was kind of like a study in his head
with all the digital printing
and all the experimenting,
And the robots were there again.
He said to me, "I designed
my last coflection, Sebastian."
And he told me,
"I've had enough with all this.
"I am gonna kill myself."
"What do you mean,
you're gonna kill yourself?"
He's like, "Yeah, I...
"I am fed up. I've had it with this.
"L just wanna put an end to it.
"And in my last show,
in the end..."
He said,
"Do you remember Voss?
"So, I'm gonna do
the same sort of thing,
"but it's going to be a Perspex box
the size of a human being.
"So, when the show ends,
"this box is gonna come up
from the ground
"with me inside.
"And then I'm just...
"I'm just gonna
shoot myself."
(Stammering) And I...
I mean, I just didn't know
what to... How to react to that.
You know what I mean?
He sounded so convinced.
(Tape plays)
(McQueen speaking)
It was like he thought
that the whole fashion "system"
was against him.
And I said, "No, no one is against you.
"But if you are thinking to do this,
"you're gonna harm so many people
"because people come
to your shows to see your beauty,
"your talent, your creativity and
"to see you, to see your work."
(Soft instrumental music)
He was like a movie director.
We had to be like aliens
and he told us this.
He said, "Listen, you have
to have this face.
"Strong, you know.
You have to be powerful."
With this show,
he kind of threw a bomb on us.
"OK, this is it. Finished.
Everything is finished.
"We are reborn. We're starting anew.
"New chapter, new planet."
(Music intensifies)
(Frackowiak) I was really scared.
I tried not to picture myself falling.
I wanted him to be proud of me
and I wanted him to be proud
that he has such an army of models.
(Gary) Endless print designs.
It might have been a fish's fin
or scales from a snake,
and then manipulated and montaged
into a repeat pattern.
And it became something else,
This was the turn of the digital age
coming into fashion.
(Sebastian) It towards the end
he wasn't that happy,
why his best collection is there?
He knew he needed
something revolutionary.
And I think
Plato's Atlantis is, I'm sorry.
(Janet) I didn't go to Plato,
my mum not being well.
She was on dialysis at the time.
Lee didn't really want to face the fact
that we was gonna lose Mum.
Because he'd lost lssie,
he wasn't, erm,
dealing with Mum not being well.
(Gary) After my grandmother Joyce
passed away,
he was in really bad shape.
(Janet) Lee was distraught.
We was sitting
in the living room at my dad's
and he didn't look himself at all,
I mean, we was all taking
my mum's passing bad.
I think we was all worried about Lee
because obviously Mum and Lee...
Lee idolised my mum.
The Iastjob he gave me to do
was designing the gravestone.
He liked the idea of the wings
wrapping round the gravestone
to kind of embrace
my grandmother Joyce.
Originally, I had hands
which were facing down
on top of the gravestone.
But the hands for him facing down
was holding them down.
He wanted them uplifted,
so he turned the hands upwards.
(Janet) I called Lee
we spoke about
Mum's funeral and...
And that was the last conversation.
-(Tape plays)
-(McQueen speaking)
(Mira) The night...
lwas in bed,
I was reading, and I felt...
I felt something touch my head.
Very softly and very gently.
I touched my head
and I said to myself,
"Who's here? Who are you?"
I knew someone had passed
and was saying goodbye.
I got a call at half past 9:00
in the morning
from my sister.
And then that phone call...
Just changed...
I just really couldn't believe
what I was hearing
because itjust seemed so surreal
in that moment.
Just the vision in my mind
of Lee being sort of all alone
and doing that as well
was playing through my mind,
you know, and it's quite...
It's not the nicest way to go, you know.
Suicide, alone, hanging.
It's, erm...
I just don't want to think
what was going through his mind,
how lonely he must have been as well,
doing it.
(Reporter 1) The fashion world
is in shock
over news that Alexander McQueen
has died...
(Reporter 2) The darling of British
fashion has been found dead after...
(Reporters speaking other languages)
(Sebastin) He used to say that a lot.
"One day
"I'm gonna come home
inside a body bag."
And that day when...
The news opened again
that day
of him leaving his house
inside a body bag.
(Rebecca) I'd taken my kids
to Hamleys' 100th-year celebration
and my partner picked me up and said,
"I've got..."
I can't do it. It'll just be really
silly. I'll just cry.
He said, "Lee's dead."
And it was just such a shock
and I was so angry
for a really long time.
Because you think just...
"How do you...
"How did that happen?"
You know? He's...
I think that
perhaps after my mum went
that he felt there was nothing
that could make him happy any more.
And I just think it was
in that moment that
he had that emptiness.
I miss him a lot, yeah.
I miss that... That... You know...
He could have had, like,
some really great happiness in his life
and he didn't quite have that
in his personal life.
And... That's what I wish...
Wished for him most.
($ftly) Yeah.
I'm so happy I got to...
To meet him and to...
To share
part of my life with his story
and everything.
But I miss him.
I wish
things ended in a different way.
(Plum) He wanted to make
really beautiful things
and he sculpted in clothing.
He was a sculptor really, I think,
and that's where that silhouette
came from.
(Mira) His clothes made me feel
that you could be feminine,
but at the same time, you know,
"Don't fuck with me, I'm a bitch."
(Sebastian) The thing I remember best
is seeing him working.
It was magical.
For me, he was like a magician.
(Kidd) One outfit would just be insane
and then the next one
would just be genius.
(Viglezio) Nobody could create emotions
in a show like Lee McQueen did.
(Gary) Fashion for Lee was a way
of just communicating a whole world
and he wanted to take himself
out of the picture,
for people just to focus
on this art that he was creating.
(Simon) Raucous, bolshie,
incredibly funny, incredibly driven.
Not only did he have a singular vision,
but he was a very singular individual.
And his strength of personality
was quite phenomenal.
You just don't see
many people like that.
They don't...
They don't come up very often.