Writing Like McQueen

Status report: Today, I sent my revised first chapter to my readers. I’m working on the final revisions to all the chapters now. I should be able to send them the introduction tomorrow, and then the second and third chapters by the end of the week. And that will be it. More revisions, hopefully the final ones, and then the dissertation will go to the committee.

So, I’m feeling all right, although tired of course.

I wanted to write at least a little about the Alexander McQueen exhibit. But because I don’t have much time tonight, because I have so much to do, I’m going to post a few videos.

The first one is a video put together by the Met that discusses some of the exhibits. These are the things I saw. They are glorious, aren’t they?

The second one starts in a winterscape with some beautiful dresses, but quickly goes to one of his fashion shows, in which a dress is spraypainted by two robots. I saw the dress in the exhibit.

Isn’t it a weird, wonderful little ballet? What I love is his imagination, how he creates stories out of clothes. All of his clothes are like stories. You feel that his clothes tell stories about the women who wear them.

And here is a video of a hologram that was also part of the exhibit. It’s Kate Moss in one of his dresses, originally shown at one of his fashion shows. Again, you can imagine a story, can’t you?

What I can’t show you is the exquisite workmanship in the clothes. I saw them from less than a foot away, looked right at the stitching, the beading. And it made me wonder, how can I write the way McQueen created clothes? Because what I saw in the exhibit was glorious and inspirational.

And I thought, I know who writes that way: Angela Carter.

Do you remember when I took photos of the Scaasi exhibit? (There were no photos allowed of the McQueen exhibit.) Well, McQueen is to Scaasi as Angela Carter is to Danielle Steele.

So, how can I be a sort of McQueen of stories, without being Carter, since I am not her and can’t be her? I think the key is to write with exquisite craftsmanship and imagination. To take things from the past, strange things, political but also fantastical things, and merge them into a whole, a statement. But also to create something beautiful and entertaining, something that someone might wear or read for pleasure. I don’t know if this makes sense to you, but it does to me, and it points me toward a place I want to go with my writing, in terms of craftsmanship and in terms of what I do, how far I want to push myself. Which is far, along a strange and beautiful road.

I hope you like the videos.

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2 Responses to Writing Like McQueen

  1. Great videos. Those aren’t dresses–they’re stories people wear.

    Re: your statement about trying to be a sort of McQueen / Carter without being them. It strikes me that it’s about constructing beautiful and strange and pleasurable bits of a story at all levels, from the most minute to the largest, all from your own perspective and in a way that the little strange pleasures form a unity that is stranger and more pleasurable than even the strangest and most pleasurable of the constituents could be. If this is what you’re suggesting, we’re driving at the same goal–but of course we won’t reach the same destination (as neither did McQueen and Carter); perspective is everything, and perspective is of course also personal.

  2. Michelle says:

    McQueen’s designs are so fantastically sublime that I too begin to see the stories and conjure the characters that would be adorned in his designs. And how I also wish for writing that is akin to couture; intricate, layered, delicately beaded with fine phrases of breath and sound. Truly flowing with threads of language and sheen that are rendered radiant with each reading.

    And with McQueen, you see the designs and his unique touch threaded throughout each piece. What signature will make us stunning as writers, how to make stories so vivid they shimmer through quietness and command the room?

    I also am reminded of the beetle-wing gown: http://nttreasurehunt.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/beetles-darling/
    Something so iridescent and lustrous, gowns like these and McQueen’s practically pave their way from the runway into the wild woods. You’ve mentioned fairy ointment before and the ability to see into another world, and the designs do make you think the creators had a glimpse of the unreal, and they invite you to dream along, and maybe step into the vision.

    And with the best writing, we don that exquisite dress and follow, forging along a path where stones turn to jewel, flowers spring from lace, and silk is spun through the trees to guide the way.

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