cover image House of McQueen

House of McQueen

Valerie Wallace. Four Way, $15.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-945588-11-2

Wallace conducts a literary seance in her transcendent debut, serving as a scholar of and medium for the late iconic fashion designer Alexander McQueen (1969–2010). Devising her poems using an extensive array of sources, Wallace manages to encapsulate the “monstrous and magical” visions that defined McQueen’s oeuvre. Her biographical thesis, so to speak, can be seen in lines written from the designer’s perspective: “People say I do it for the shock value/ I just like exploring the sinister side of life.” Wallace’s expert distillation of McQueen’s life and words offers valuable insight on his whimsical and dark-minded vision. Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of Wallace’s lyrical tapestry is the way in which she cultivates various voices and narratives; by quoting McQueen’s friends and disciples, including such notable figures as Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, readers hear through them the fashion industry legend’s call to “Perform my clothes like you’re devastated.” There are also witty moments, as when Wallace imagines McQueen’s scissors whispering in his ear, “It’s only cloth.” Wallace’s language locates a maelstrom of emotional and spiritual energy at the core of McQueen’s evocative designs. Sensual, devastating, and lithe as silk, Wallace’s work is a fitting tribute to McQueen’s dynamic yet tragic life. (Mar.)