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Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin Hardcover – September 1, 2015

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Presents a thorough and emotionally compelling exploration of the life, work, and inner demons of fashion designer Alexander McQueen....Wilson paints vivid portraits of McQueen’s family and friends....a fully realized representation of a complex and enigmatic artist.” (Publishers Weekly)

[In] Andrew Wilson's magnificent biography...[Alexander McQueen] comes across as a modern-day Mozart, unpredictable, rebellious, kind, witty, clever, scatalogical, but always with the unique talent and creative genius shining through...bounds across the pages and is brought to life by extensive interviews with family and friends...McQueen has got in Wilson the biographer he deserves. (The Independent (UK))

“Wilson's compelling and heavily researched bio…has already been published to rave reviews in Britain.” (Entertainment Weekly)

"Wilson's storytelling is crisp as he offers new insights into McQueen's short life...[and] provides unprecedented access to a misunderstood soul." (Boston Globe)

“My work is like a biography of my own personality,” the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen said, a thought that informs the structure of this account of his life and work. Detailed discussion of his sometimes macabre runway shows reveals a man obsessed with death and spectacle and haunted by childhood sexual abuse. Wilson reads in McQueen’s clothes a complicated relationship with women. Some critics, observing the near-brutality of the shows—one featured a model whose mouth was splayed open by metal braces—charged McQueen with misogyny, but Wilson sees the more extreme costumes as “armor,” a “sartorial force field,” and, perhaps, an invitation to empowerment. (The New Yorker)

About the Author

Andrew Wilson is an award-winning journalist and author. His work has appeared in a wide variety of publications including the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Daily Telegraph, the Observer, the Sunday Times, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Mail, the New Statesman, the Evening Standard magazine and the Smithsonian.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1St Edition edition (September 1, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476776733
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476776736
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Suzinne Barrett VINE VOICE on September 1, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Having read Andrew Wilson's excellent biographies of both Sylvia Plath and Patricia Highsmith, knew I was in for an absolute TREAT with this first full length biography of Alexander McQueen.

The book reads seamlessly, and it offers an excellent look at the ascension of one of the greatest designers and creative minds of our time. Born in the East End - the rougher part of London, Lee (his birth name) McQueen was someone who worked very hard at his craft - first on Saville Row sewing suits, and later on he was off to St. Martins (where he studied along with John Galliano) to fully learn the art of designing garments. Never stopping for a second, but managing to squeeze some heavy partying and hook-ups into the mix, McQueen steadily rose to worldwide acclaim. And no doubt about it, Mr. McQueen was a complicated figure, and the author does not shrink from giving a warts and all view in addition to revealing the motives behind the clothes and the man.

This biography is extremely well written and includes a head spinning cast of supporting characters. The standouts are Daphne Guinness and Isabella Blow, but there are quite a few others too. Highly recommended for the fashion set everywhere, and also a valuable read for those interested in the creative process.

Full disclosure: Received a digital advance reviewer's copy from netgalley.com
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Why I picked it up — I lived in the New York area in 2011, when Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty was on at the Met. I must have gone at least 5 or 6 times, I was completely enamored with that show. It was the first time I had ever considered fashion as art, with clothes as just a medium. So many of his pieces, ideas, and feats of tailoring lodged in my brain and set my imagination aflame. I loved all the historical and mythological references. I idly wondered — not that I'd shown any inclination for it ever before — if I'd missed out by never considering a career in fashion design. (After reading this book, the short answer is no!) But I didn't know anything about the man behind the art, other than that he'd killed himself. So the moment I saw this biography on a shelf, I knew I had to read it and better get to know the creative genius whose clothes could fill me with so much emotion.

The good — The book definitely fulfilled its purpose of giving me a much better sense of who Alexander McQueen was as a person. It filled in lots of details about his life and the struggles and people that shaped it. And of course it's always fun to read a story about how someone comes up from humble origins to make a huge success of themselves. And the costs of that success. So I definitely got what I came for, in that sense.

The less good — It felt like this book had no narrative cohesion. Each chapter represented a period in McQueen's life and read like a fact file of every interesting interview scrap Andrew Wilson had managed to gather about that time. It felt like reading the highlighted bits of somebody's research notes. All seven of McQueen's boyfriends blended together in my head, as did many of his friends and colleagues.
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Format: Hardcover
I was transfixed by the Savage Beauty exhibit at the V & A this past summer and though I never read biographies, barrelled through this one in three days. To stand among McQueen's couture was a toe dip into his vast, awesome, terrifying, resplendent imagination. To read Wilson's biography is to witness McQueen's life speeding by, onwards and upwards-- show after glorious show after shocking show, his star climbing, shining, and, imploding at the height of fame. McQueen was careening towards burnout all his life and Wilson brings you along for the ride. Since Wilson reports McQueen did not write letters, this biography is rather an oral history based on the memories of his friends, partners, and fashion circle and so has an accessible conversational tone. But boy is it readable! And well researched.

Andrew Wilson does a great job depicting the frenzied arc of McQueen's life, the urgent energies propelling him, the talent, the insecurities, the drug habit, the gay habits, the consuming demands of the fashion world, McQueen's way with scissors...and, naturally, his obsession with beauty and decay rendered in theatrical splendour. The descriptions of the dress cuts are worth the read alone.

One of my favorite moments: McQueen is working on a wedding dress for friend Plum Sykes and she wants the dress to be "trendy." McQueen: "Plum, your wedding dress is not about looking trendy, it is about looking absolutely immaculate." And then in the course of a fitting, he uses McDonald's ketchup-stained fingers to adjust this very "immaculate white dress." Perfect capture!

This book is biography and tribute to one of the greatest fashion designers and visionaries EVER. Period.
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Excellent biography of Lee Alexander McQueen. I've always been interested in fashion, and McQueen particularly, and I devoured this book. It is written so well and goes from his childhood to his beginning into fashion at Saint Martins School into his own label and Gucci. Loved the pictures, and the reference to a website with most of his collections on video. I knew how it was going to end and I didn't want that for such a talented man. Wish he was with us now to give us more of his extraordinary work. I would definitely recommend this to the fashion minded.
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