We remember being very excited indeed when, in the mid-1980s, Malcolm McLaren announced his intention to make Fashion Beast, a film based on the life of Christian Dior. McLaren had recently decamped from the Kings Road, Chelsea to Hollywood and had designs on a post-punk career in cinema. His version of the Dior story would – he promised – focus on how kooky the progenitor of the New Look really was. Amongst other eccentricities Dior would, it was said, disappear beneath the crinolines in costume museums to study their construction.
McLaren worked on his Fashion Beast project with Alan Moore — the writer who, more than anyone else in the last three decades, has been credited with transforming the traditional comic book into the sophisticated graphic novel. Moore’s work to date includes Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. As well as being well-known for distancing himself from subsequent film adaptations of his work, he’s a writer renowned for mixing dark, frequently occult elements into his narratives. From the seed of the Dior biopic idea, McLaren and Moore wrote Fashion Beast as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, set in an unsettling, vaguely dystopian future, with a transgender coat-check girl/boy as the Beauty and an aloof, sinister and rarely-seen couturier as the Beast.
The project disappeared, as did – tragically – Malcolm McLaren, who died of cancer in April 2010, shortly after providing the soundtrack for Dries van Noten’s Autumn/Winter catwalk show that year. Fashion Beast was, we assumed, dead and buried.
We were thrilled to discover, then, that the project has been rebooted as a graphic novel, illustrated beautifully – and cinematically – by Facundo Percio. Currently it’s being released in monthly comic book editions, in a variety of collectible covers, and a bound complete edition will appear next year. While we’re unlikely to see the project realised as a film anytime soon (if at all), the print version certainly breathes life into the characters. We were particularly delighted to see McLaren’s dance track “Deep in Vogue” make a soundtrack appearance in the first issue.