“I’m a romantic schizophrenic,” a quote from the late Alexander McQueen sets the perfect tone for the exhibition Savage Beauty at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The presentation features pieces from McQueen’s postgraduate collections and iconic work thoughout his career to his final womenswear collection before he passed in February 2010.
This really is a mind blowing experience and the MET’s curators did an impeccable job capturing McQueen’s creative voice and displaying his works of art.
In the first gallery, The Romanic Mind, displays McQueen’s early work when he set up house in Holford Square at the start of his career. You can get up close and personal with his innovative craftsmanship in tailoring and creative artistry.
You then move into the second gallery Romantic Gothic, the space is completely covered with aged mirrors and you step into the gothic, darker side of McQueen. He was heavily inspired by the 19th century Victorian era especially from art history and literature. McQueen often referred to himself as the Edgar Allen Poe of fashion and you can see this in his moody and dramatic designs of black lacework, leather head-dresses and intricate beading in this collection.
Next you enter into the Cabinets of Curiosities which curator Andrew Bolton exclaims this to be the heart and soul of the exhibition, you can see the objects that have inspired McQueen throughout his years and what sparked his imagination. Above these objects are iconic moments from his shows playing on LCD screens and you can see the connection of how these inspirations would come to life on the runway.
Next gallery, Romantic Nationalism reflects McQueen tartan which in this collection shows his great pride in Scottish heritage and his love for English history. McQueen’s English pride was so strong he was even recognized in 2003 by Queen Elizabeth II who made him a commander of the British Empire for his fashion leadership.
Highland Rape, from this controversial runway show in 1995, the ripped and torn lace and chiffon dresses are meant to display the rape and violence of Scotland in the Highland Clearances of the 19th century and riots of 18th century. At the end of this gallery is the whimsical hologram of Kate Moss that was the finale of his 1995 show. Next to it on display is a variation of the dress Kate wore made of layers upon layers of silk organza is simply breath taking.
Romantic Exotism sits in a mirrored, music box layout with the mannequins rotating like ballerina dancers. We see the influence of China and Japan embroidery and patchwork of flowers and brocade textures in this collection.
Romantic Primitivism was McQueen’s show in 2003 that was described as a shipwreck at sea. In this collection the gallery backdrop is of rusted metal to represent a sunken ship, as videos play above the gallery. These videos were the backdrop from the 2003 runway show. This collection represents contrasting opposites; predator vs. prey and primitive vs. civilized. Most interesting pieces are a well-tailored blazer with alligator heads for bold shoulders and a chiffon flowing gown ripped and with torn edges like it was salvaged from the sea.
Romantic Naturalism displays McQueen’s love for nature and how it inspired his creations. The drawing on the wall are actually sketches by McQueen and was created into wallpaper. You’ll fall in love with the decadent gown made entirely out of silk flowers and the feminine and dainty ruffled tiered lace dress.
The last gallery displays McQueen’s last full collection before he passed. This collection is most known for being worn by Lady Gaga herself. You see the bold use of materials and innovative shapes and textures that makes us sad to think we’ve lost such a great influence in fashion. He only had more to say.
The show at the MET debuted last week and is on display till July 31, 2011. Please see MET for details on the show. It’s a must see!!