The recent exhibition at London’s V&A museum is the largest Alexander McQueen exhibition that Europe has ever had the pleasure of seeing.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty showcases McQueen’s visionary body of work. Spanning his 1992 MA graduate collection to his unfinished A/W 2010 collection, McQueen’s designs are presented with the dramatic staging and sense of spectacle synonymous with his runway shows.
If someone asked me to describe this exhibition in three words I would have to use unique, mad and inspiring.
Every room showed a different collection or two, and every room had a different vibe, a different atmosphere and made you feel a different way. The whole experience really played on emotions of the viewer.
‘I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists, I have to force people to look at things in a certain way’
Some of my favorite rooms and collections were by far the room displaying the Autumn/Winter 2000 collection; ‘It’s a jungle out there’ as well as the ‘Esbu’ collection. The walls of the room were covered floor to ceiling in tiny bones and skulls, the collection was inspired by animals and the theme of Thomas’s Gazelle with the relationship between predator and prey.
This was also reflected in the materials used in the collection; hair, latex, mud and beads. The mannequins used to display this collection were masked with beaks and horns.
‘What I do is look at tribes, the way they dress, there is a lot of tribalism culture in my collection’
The best thing about the exhibition I found was the knowledge of the inspiration and story of the collections.
An example of a collection I found this in was McQueen’s second collection for Givenchy which told the story of a fictional surgeon who dissembles woman and then reassembles them as hybrids with bird parts; explaining why this collection included a lot of feathers, black and beak like features and models with leather chained masks. During presentation of this collection on the catwalk it was said that McQueen took his final bow with a live falcon tethered to his wrist.
‘You’ve got to know the rules to break them, that is what I’m here for, to demolish the rules by keep the tradition’
By far the most flamboyant room was during the middle of the exhibition, in which pieces were placed all around the warehouse like room, on shelves floor to ceiling. Viewers sat in the middle of the room for a 360 view of all the pieces. These angles linked with the hardcore music, various clicking and banging noises made this room truly incredible to experience.
As it is well known in the media, Lady Gaga was a keen wearer of Alexander McQueen outfits and pieces, understanding where she took her inspiration from his pieces. For example the red mass, the lace, the high rounded shoes etc.
“Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment.”
As I moved further through the exhibition I found the spring 2011 collection ‘Voss’ really intriguing.
This collection was displayed through a mirror, walking up to the display it was reflected and all you can see is yourself. The lights then lifted inside the mirror and the models were displayed. This was a representation of the Voss catwalk presentation, the audience could see themselves before the show and when the show began the models couldn’t see out. I found this a truly amazing concept, making the catwalk an experience rather than just a show.
“I never look at other people’s work. My mind has to be completely focused on my own illusions.”
The whole exhibition was truly an experience and all collections by McQueen were truly unique, all with different aspects, the themes and what inspired them. However my personal favorite collection of McQueen’s was his last and unfinished collection before his death in February 2010, Plato’s Atlantis. This collection presented a future in which ice caps would melt and waters would rise meaning that life would have to adapt in order to live meaning humanity would go back to how it once was. The outfits in this collection truly reflected this, with the main colors being yellows and blues. The yellow reflecting the air with moth patterns and floating wing like aspects. Therefore the blue reflecting the water, with sparkly scale like features representing life underwater.
“As a designer, you’ve always got to push yourself forward; you’ve always got to keep up with the trends or make your own trends. That’s what I do.”
There was, of course, a shop at the end of the exhibition with many merchandise of not only the exhibition but also of McQueen’s life and collections, such as some of his pieces, photos and postcards, notepads and designer books. Any merchandise you can possibly think of, it was there to buy.
I highly recommend any fashionistas and all knowledge seekers to go check all articles on this exhibition; it truly was unlike any exhibition you would have seen before. Inspirational, unique, creative, mad and more importantly grotesquely beautiful.
‘There is no way back for me now, I’m going to take you on journey’s you’ve never dreamed of” – Alexander McQueen – 1969 – 2010