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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

2011 Costume Institute exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

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.

McQueen's 1992 Central Saint Martins postgraduate collection, based on Jack the Ripper

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.

Romantic Gothic display

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”

Romantic Nationalism display

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.

"Romantic Naturalism"

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.

Purchase the book: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, $45 as well as other memorabilia from the exhibit in the Met Museum shop

Visit the exhibit from May 4th – July 31st at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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One Response to “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty”

  1. Ashley P says:

    I will be going to this Friday!

    I am looking forward to it!


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