Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Savage Beauty: Alexander McQueen Exhibit at the Met

Shocking, visionary, artist, a true designer.  Alexander McQueen's death shocked and saddened many of the fashion world, but his creative legacy is eternal.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC launches Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty today.  The extensive exhibit is one of the most elaborate, dramatic tributes to a designer I have ever seen.

The exhibit opens with two mannequins in a darkened foyer.  One dressed in an ombre red feather gown, the other in a sculpted dress made of razor shells.  You then proceed into soaring black walled halls with antiqued gilded mirrors and horror movie sound effects.  The display of impeccably tailored black suits showed of McQueen's Savile Row background, but the rebellious variations of draping and corset finishing was all his vision.  This was the most sedate part of the exhibit.
The opposite side of the room contained gloriously rich black gowns of Gothic fantasy.  Influences like Tim Burton were named. 

The "Cabinet of Curiosities" room contained displays of hats and accessories made for Alexander McQueen.  A flurry of butterflies from Philip Treacy, Samurai armor inspired headpieces, sculpted shoes in the shape of a mutated spine.  In one corner, was the infamous trapeze-like dress worn by Shalom Harlow for the Spring 1999 show.  She was spun around mechanically on the runway and spray painted with robotic nozzles.

The next rooms contained an elegant tribute to the Scottish Highlands of his ancestry.  Jeweled gowns, billowing velvet capes and gorgeous tartans were on display.  This transitioned into the controversial "Highland Rape" collection of Fall 1995/1996.  There were simpler chiffon dresses in Earth tartans shredded, placed in a distressed wooden set.

The next gallery was an exploration into Romantic Exoticism.  Traditional techniques of layered Chinese and Japanese embroidered were heavily worked into avant-garde interpretations of historical Asian silhouettes.  An exquisite, but tongue-in-cheek expression of traditional Japanese armor was presented in the form of a lotus-printed football helmet.  A dress of large mother of pearl paillettes was a terrific modern take on the pearl embroideries of the past.

The last exhibits were devoted to Naturalism.  Huge, alien-like shoes and shimmering insect chic ensembles came from one of McQueen's last collections in 2010.  These were made famous by Lady Gaga who was a big supporter of the designer.

If you want to be wowed by one of the most prolific designers of our time, get over to the Metropolitan Museum from May 4–July 31, 2011.

Can't make it to the exhibit?  The museum has published a gorgeous hardcover catalog of the show on order online.  
Photos courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Anonymous said...


Breathtakingly innovative and raw. I checked out the Met's site and was struck by this man's incomprehensible talent. A true visionary. I absolutely MUST go see this exhibit for myself! Thanks for sharing!

Lady Evyan said...

Just great. Hope to see this breathtaking exhibit on tour around the glob in many other museuns devoted to contemporary art forms and fashion. It would be the only way for me to possibly see this show on madness, talent and beauty.

Thanks for sharing, must grab this and spread around if you don't mind!

Zellain said...

I wish I lived closer so I could see this exhibit in person. At least the images coming from it are incredible.

NAHRIN said...

Another reason to go to NYC... McQueen was one of my idols. He was a true inspiration. I couldn't stop crying when I heard the news about his death. The world has lost another incredible talent the likes of which it may never see again. HAIL McQUEEN!!!!!!

Kteis said...

Oh, I love this blog, will be following regularly!
Goth love <3


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