What Alexander McQueen Can Teach Us About Fashion – Ana Finel Honigman

Published By: Frances Lincoln
Pages: 144
Date Published: 28/09/2021

Alexander McQueen will go down in history as the most talented and enigmatic ‘bad boy’ of fashion. But it was his drive and visionary perspective that secured his place in sartorial legend when his defying couture looks sent shockwaves through the fashion landscape. But how did he think? And how was his attitude reflected in his work? What Alexander McQueen Can Teach You About Fashion breaks down McQueen’s life and work into memorable maxims – including Don’t be Scared of Fear, Challenge Gender, Add Volume, then More Volume and Show Skin. This book uncovers McQueen’s creative flair, his inspirations, his business acumen and the details that make his designs so arresting.

With pithy, thoughtful text and inspirational photographs, learn something from McQueen and apply it to your own life, creativity and style. These are the things that really define what it means to be McQueen. 

*****

Thanks to Frances Lincoln for an advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

Firstly, may I state this is not a “how to” book. It doesn’t contain tips from the late great Alexander McQueen on how to make or wear high fashion. Instead it is a story of his life and his creations, and how they mixed to make one tortured, haunted soul.

I’ll admit I still remember where I was when I heard McQueen had taken his own life. It was February 2010 and I was 16 years old. I was at school for parents evening waiting to see my philosophy tutor. We were early so my late father was browsing the news on his phone when he told me the news. Neither him nor my mother knew who he was, but I did, and I knew in that moment what a hole would from then on be missing from the fashion world. I visited his exhibition at the V&A in 2015 which was the t hauntingly beautiful experience I would have quite happily kept paying so I could stay in there.

I design my own clothes in my spare time – they haven’t gone any further than my sketchbooks – and am fascinated by fashion, even if I do spend most of my time in sweatpants. The main think I took from this is that McQueen showed us fashion isn’t always about the physical garment. It can be – the garment, the model, the material, the form, the fit – but it’s also about the setting, the meaning, the connotations, and most importantly, how it makes us feel.

There must have been thousands of images for Honigman to choose from and the ones chosen for this are just perfect for depicting McQueen’s inner turmoil. Ideally I would have loved a photo for each garment mentioned but you’d need a separate volume to fit them all in.

It’s not a particularly long book, perfect to read in one sitting if you’re lucky enough to have that spare time. It is informative and informative and interesting and important without being too heavy to read. I may have to buy a physical copy of it to add to my bookshelf.

As McQueen once said, “The world needs fantasy” – ain’t that the truth.

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