- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; 1st 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
- Average Customer Review: 30 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #818,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin Hardcover – September 1, 2015
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
“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 Sunday Times, and the Smithsonian Magazine. He is the author of four acclaimed biographies, a book about the survivors of the Titanic, and the novels, The Lying Tongue, A Talent for Murder, A Different Kind of Evil, Death in a Desert Land.
Top customer reviews
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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.
But even more, I felt like some things, important things, were stated over and over and over again without being properly explained. For example, the pressures the fashion industry put on McQueen. There were plenty of quotes from people around him saying he felt trapped or seemed to be under a lot of pressure. Other people commented that they wouldn't wish success in fashion on their worst enemy. And the whole time a part of me was screaming, WHY, EXACTLY??!!
You're really left to sort of guess at it from the odd scraps here and there. Was it the demanding production schedule that forced him to put together so many shows per year? Was it because a lot of people did cocaine? Was it the need to satisfy his financial backers? Is fashion really that much more pressurized than any other industry? There's a glut of anecdote, sentences and quotes that touch on it repeatedly throughout the book. But the author never really goes farther to explain the more big picture themes in any sort of coherent or satisfying way.
I think a better book would have been grouped thematically instead of chronologically: McQueen's family, McQueen's love life, McQueen's professional life, McQueen's party life, etc. It would have allowed for an in-depth look at what was going on in each of those areas, rather than just presenting a mass of quotes and anecdotes chronologically.