Sunday, January 31, 2016

Fashion Beast

Story by Alan Moore and Malcolm McLaren
Adaptation by Antony Johnston
Art by Facundo Percio

So apparently back in the day, impresario Malcolm McLaren convinced Alan Moore to write a movie script for a story idea he had.  The film was never made, and the script languished for a while, before being acquired by Avatar Press, who then got Antony Johnston and Facundo Percio to adapt it for comics.  In some ways, the idea of two icons like McLaren and Moore working together is as interesting as their final product, but this story also stands on its own without worrying about its providence.

Fashion Beast is set a little ways into the future (as seen from the vantage point of the 80s), after England has been plunged into a nuclear winter, while it still fights some sort of war against an unnamed enemy.  London is slowly emptying of young men of fighting age, as well as undesirables.  The economy has tanked, and things are looking pretty grim.

This is not the case, though, for the fashion empire of Celestine, a reclusive designer whose gigantic salon remains brightly lit.  Doll Seguin is an androgynous young woman who works in the coat check of a local nightclub, until an unruly patron causes her to lose her job.  She ends up auditioning as a model (really, as a mannequin) for Celestine, who hires her against the wishes of the two simian Madames who actually run his operation while he sits in the dark and sketches clothing.

Not long after being hired, Doll discovers that the person who caused her to lose her job, Johnny, works at the salon.  Their rivalry pushes the two of them to do greater work.  When Johnny criticizes Celestine's designs, it is Doll that takes that criticism to the great man, and they are incorporated into his collection, which further enrages Johnny.  Things continue like this for a while until the tragic secrets behind Celestine's self-imposed exile from the world come to light, and Doll has to decide whether or not she will remain complicit in the deception at the heart of her new job.

I'm not sure how this would have worked as a film, unless it had been directed by Peter Greenaway, with a big, ostentatious score by Michael Nyman.  It definitely feels like a story whose time has passed, but that doesn't make it ineffective.  Johnston, as always, does a fine job of adapting Moore's screenplay, pacing the comic nicely to make it work across ten issues.  Percio is pretty Avatar-esque in his art, but that's not exactly a bad thing.

At the end of the day, this is really just a footnote in Alan Moore's career, and an odd piece of trivia in McLaren's, but it's good that it managed to make its way into the world.

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