It has been four years since fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s death, and the void of his showmanship and provocative designs is still felt in the fashion world. There are many talented, young designers today, but none of them seem to have McQueen’s fearlessness and flare for extravagance.
A McQueen runway show was always such an anticipated event in fashion; what could McQueen have done with a director’s viewfinder and a screenplay he was passionate about?
McQueen’s motto of a perfect cut of fabric, which he learned as a tailor at sixteen, could’ve been applied to 35mm or digital film as well. He was a poet with visual images; his canvas was a runway instead of a movie screen. He had such a unique and creative eye, going from one visual medium to another would have been an effortless transition for him.
In recent years, artists in various mediums have tried their hand at filmmaking. Legendary artist Julian Schnabel practically reinvented himself by making great films like “Basquiat” and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” Steve McQueen, another artist, a Turner Prize winner, directed 2013’s “12 Years a Slave,” the reigning Academy Award winning Best Picture.
Designer Tom Ford, an admirer of McQueen’s work, directed the impressive “A Single Man.” If McQueen saw Ford’s film, the idea of directing a movie of his own had to have crossed his mind; especially after the almost universal praise for the film based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood.
Most of McQueen’s shows had a Cecil B. DeMille quality to them with grandiose set pieces on the runway and experimentation with the way models presented his clothes. Audiences either hated or loved his shows, but they were all magical in a way a film is when you get totally immersed in one. He sold clothes, but he also presented his lines with an unrivaled theatricality.
During his Spring/Summer 1999 show, the image of two runway-mounted robotic arms spray painting model Shalom Harlow’s white dress black and yellow is an unforgettable one. It’s been dubbed by some fashion critics as one of the most memorable moments at a McQueen show. It was cinematic and disturbing. “Was his model being decorated or violated?” critics asked, but, like a memorable scene on celluloid, it was a frenetic image that is etched in the memory of anyone who saw it.
The son of an East End taxi driver saw beauty where most people saw repulsiveness. Some of the greatest directors in cinema, like David Lynch, possess the same unique gift. McQueen pushed fashion to the edge. His relentless passion to create the next great thing in fashion would have been the same if a producer or studio gave him financing and total creative control.
Like the lines to his shows in Paris and London, the lines for an Alexander McQueen Production would’ve been long and the expectations high. For the costume design alone, everyone in the fashion industry would’ve purchased a ticket.
The “Rebel King of British Fashion” could have made an important film. We’ll never know; that’s what happens when a truly gifted artist is gone before we see the full potential of the magic they choose to share with the rest of us.
Note: I’ve been writing pieces for Yahoo Voices! and Yahoo Sports! for two years.