While the media outlets, celebrity and gossip bloggers chatter about the fabulous fashion hits and misses at last night’s Costume Institute Ball at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the real star of the event ought to be the namesake for which the event honored, the Alexander McQueen retrospective which opens today, entitled Savage Beauty.
The exhibit features more than 100 McQueen ensembles and 70 accessories covering his 16-year career, culled from the Alexander McQueen Archive in London, with some pieces from the Givenchy Archive in Paris as well as private collections, taking us from his 1992 Central Saint Martins postgraduate collection to his final runway presentation, which took place after his death in February 2010.
As you walk through the dark, gothic galleries, haunting background music sets the tone adding to the theatrical nature of McQueen’s work. The displays of his dramatic constructions are punctuated with quotes from the designer, giving an added insight to the nature of his works.
“I design from the side; that way I get the worst angle of the body. You’ve got all the lumps and the bumps, the S-bend of the back, the bum. That way I get a cut and proportion and silhouette that works all the way round the body”
“I want to empower women. I want people to be afraid of the women I dress”
“It’s the ugly things I notice more, because other people tend to ignore the ugly things”
Broken into themes, each gallery examines a particular aspect of McQueen’s aesthetic and development. “The Romantic Mind” is a study of his precision, patternmaking and simplified technical ingenuity. “Romantic Gothic” follows his historicism and 19th century inspiration, particularly Victorian Gothic. “Cabinet of Curiosities” focuses on fetishistic paraphernalia produced by McQueen in collaboration with various accessory designers, including the milliners Dai Rees and Philip Treacy and the jewelers Shaun Leane, Erik Halley, and Sarah Harmarnee. “Romantic Nationalism” shows his patriotic pride as a scottishman, and fascination with british royal history. “Romantic Exoticism” explores the influence of other cultures such as India, China, Africa, Japan and Turkey on McQueen’s imagination. “Romantic Primitivism” is inspired by ideal of a noble savage living in harmony with the natural world while “Romantic Naturalism” continues a interest in shapes and forms found in nature.
The Savage Beauty exhibit is also documented in a book by the same name written by Andrew Boulton, featuring a Skull/McQueen holographic cover, available in the museum shop. After perusing the exhibit and flipping through the book, I could not help but to buy it.
Visit the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty website for more information, video and images.
Visit the exhibit from May 4th – July 31st at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
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