The legendary Lee Alexander McQueen is the subject of the new documentary McQueen opening in Chicago Aug. 3.
The movie examines the trouble life of the fashion designer from his early days at Givenchy to his untimely death in 2010. Although people may not know all the reasons behind the openly gay designer's suicide, many ideas are presented in 111 minutes.
Writer/director Peter Ettedgui and co-director/producer Ian Bonhote explore McQueen's legacy by interviewing friends and family while covering his rise to fame.
Windy City Times: How did you two start working on McQueen in the first place?
Ian Bonhote: I was approached to direct the film. We got together and Peter wrote the narrative structure of the film. It was an intense project when we started to make it. We realized quickly that we were making the film together so it made no sense to have different roles.
Peter Ettedgui: That is why we wanted to make the film. I think both separately and together we were both profoundly moved by his story. We saw it not as a fashion film, but really as a story about the human condition.
How does someone from the modest background of McQueen become a global superstar fashion designer by the age of 26? There is a mystery on why he decided to end it all at the peak of his power and ability.
For us as storytellers there was terrific material to pick from, understand and transmit to an audience.
WCT: What did you find when you explored his background?
IB: What we found out is that it wasn't one single thing that pushed him over the edge. I think it was a combination. His mother was such a rock and raised him. She made him believe in himself so her death was hard on him.
The other thing is that he had created a very successful business and he didn't want to let it go. At the same time he wasn't finding the happiness with it because of the demands of the work and running the business. It was constantly too much.
PE: There was also a slow burning childhood trauma that conditioned his ability to form relationships and trust people. It was exacerbated by the isolation and loneliness that came with fame and celebrity.
Some people want one answer like a rosebud that tells them why he decided to end it all. We looked at it like a cocktail of aspects of his life.
IB: There were many reasons.
WCT: It seemed like his love life was very complicated, also.
IB: People say Lee was a romantic and he never found the right love. He had very strong relationships throughout his life, you are rightt. [Toward] the end of his life, there were loads of romantic flings, but nothing that anchored him.
I don't believe it was the only aspect, but I do believe a person's love life can stabilize someone.
WCT: Were there sections that didn't make it into the documentary that you wish were still in it?
PE: You have to be ruthless and lose your darlings in order to tell the story that you really want to tell.
IB: An ocean of information was available.
PE: We felt we had a very strong emotional line, which meant that certain details about his practice and how he worked fell by the wayside. We had to balance all of the elements of the story so there might be some sensational things that hit the cutting room floor, such as the sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
If you hit those things one time too many, then suddenly your movie becomes about that.
For us it was about focusing on the most important thing and how do we do that. We don't feel regret about any particular moments though, maybe in the moment when we chucked it out, but not now.
IB: After seeing the audience reacting now when we are showing the film, I don't feel we are missing anything. Everyone is feeling a rainbow of emotions now.
Read the entire interview online at WindyCityMediaGroup.com .