McQueen at St James
Based around the dark and mystical world that was portrayed in his fashion shows and collections, McQueen looks into the tortured mind of a fashion legend, looking for inspiration, hope and ideas during his last years. As the play starts, the audience is introduced to the shadow of Lee Alexander McQueen (Stephen Wight), standing solemnly in the spotlight, wrapping a belt around his fist. Only a few seconds in and people are already getting emotional, being faced with a reminder of how the great man took his life.
“I’ve got a 600-year-old elm tree in my garden. I made up a story: a girl lives in it and comes out of the darkness to meet a prince and becomes a queen.” Alexander McQueen, 2008. Taking inspiration from this quote, James Phillips and director John Caird start to build what could have been, the world of McQueen’s shows brought to life. The play centres around a mysterious girl named Dahlia (Dianna Agron), who has spent many nights hiding in a tree in McQueen’s Mayfair garden. All this time she secretly watches him as he struggles to find ideas for a collection, which would later be called The Girl Who Lived in the Tree. When she’s caught trying to steal a dress, he’s intrigued by her so allows her to stay. What unfolds is a journey through the life of McQueen.
Between musical interlude, dancing mannequins and ghostly figures from his past, this play is hauntingly beautiful, tragic and brilliant. One sees how much his lack of inspiration and belief in his own ability eventually led to his undoing. One moment that still resonates is when he tearfully asks the ghost of Isabella Blow if he’ll make it.
This is a play that can speak to anyone, not just lovers of fashion. This play gets right into the heart and soul of a person, gripping at one’s very being and leaving everyone on the edge of their seat.
Amaliah Sara Marmon-Halm
McQueen is on at St James Theatre until 27th June 2015, for further information or to book visit here.