Paying tribute to the unique and extraordinary design talents of the late Alexander McQueen, the exhibit Savage Beauty, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is already enjoying tremendous popularity.
McQueen, who was considered a fashion genius, dressed celebrities such as Janet Jackson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Moss and Isabella Blow, and was even presented with a CBE from the Queen in 2003.
Sarah Burton, Creative Director of the fashion house, took over the reins after McQueen commited suicide in February 2010, a week after his own beloved mother’s death. Sarah is now best known for creating Kate Middleton’s classic and elegant wedding gown for her recent marriage to Prince William at Westminster Abbey.
Although the house is usually associated with creating avant-garde and often astounding pieces, hints of the wedding gown’s shape and inspiration can be seen while viewing the exhibit.
The exhibit is divided up into several portions including Romantic Gothic, Romantic Nationalism, Romantic Exoticism and Romantic Naturalism. They all reflect McQueen’s evolving creativity, and also effectively take the participant on a journey through his influential career from 1995 to 2010.
The use of sound effects, video, decor, lighting and even 3D holograms compliment the provocative and sometimes disturbing designs on display. The museum’s press release explains, “Drawn primarily from the Alexander McQueen Archive in London, with some pieces from the Givenchy Archive in Paris as well as private collections, signature designs including bumster trouser, the kimono jacket, and the three-point “origami” frock coat are on view. McQueen’s fashions often referenced the exaggerated silhouettes of the 1860s, 1880s, 1890s and 1950s, but his technical ingenuity always imbued his designs with an innovative sensibility that kept him at the vanguard.”
Andrew Bolton, Curator of the Costume Institute says, “Alexander McQueen was best known for his astounding and extravagant runway presentations, which were given dramatic scenarios and narrative structures that suggested avant-garde installation and performance art. His fashions were an outlet for his emotions, an expression of the deepest, often darkest, aspects of his imagination. He was a true romantic in the Byronic sense of the word – he channeled the sublime.”
After reading about the inspirations for his collections and some quotes which accompany his designs, you get a sense of the depth of his thinking and feelings about life, death and the world around him. He incorporated all these influences into truly spectacular and very often shocking clothing, which forces the viewer to look at subjects such as death in a new way.
He used metal, animal fabrics and hair, cultural influences, religious imagery and icons, as well as blatant sexual references on a regular basis.
Videos from his extraodinary fashion shows are also shown throughout the exhibit and illustrate his fantastic showmanship and theatrics. He presented his haute couture creations in a manner that would convey a mood, tell a story and that could also be highly provocative.
Savage Beauty very effectively emulates this and the visitor is left with a greater understanding of who he was, and how his life translated into his one-of-a-kind creations.
Due to the incredible popularity of the exhibit, which runs through July 31, there can very often be a wait of thirty minutes or more to get in. It’s advised to take in other exhibits at the MET beforehand and view Savage Beauty after 6pm. The MET closes at 8pm on weekends.
The MET has an exceptional array of the best art pieces in the world and it’s impressive size and choice makes it a pefect day trip. See the works of Monet, Goya, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Tiffany glass and even Ringo Star’s Gold Drum on display in their musical instrument section.
Make Savage Beauty a stop on your spring calendar as it will change your perception of fashion and the unbelieveable level of creativity that can be achieved and expressed with it, and is a worthy tribute to the imagination of the unforgettable Alexander McQueen.
More information can be found at www.metmuseum.org