Today I went to the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A Museum in London. From the minute you step through the door plunged into darkness with the only beacon of light coming from the eerie electronic projection of McQueen’s face you feel like you’re being transported into the dark and highly creative mind of McQueen. The exhibit takes you on a journey through McQueen’s imagination with pieces from his graduate collection to his A/W 2010 collection. It all starts with signature sharp tailored military inspired jackets, the infamous bumster trousers (apparently McQueen found the bottom of the spine to be the most erotic part of the body) and the introduction of the McQueen tartan from the controversial Highland Rape show.
A room with bones bones covering the walls showcased pieces from the It’s a Jungle Out There show. Not really one for the animal lovers it features skirts made of horsehair, jackets with Impala horns, a bodysuit with structured shoulders and crocodile heads and plenty of cowhide and pony skin. Two of my favourite pieces were a dress made with strands of wood beads for the top and a net skirt splattered with latex at the bottom to resemble mud and a dress with a green beaded top half and horse hair skirt. Being a beader I can appreciate the vast amount of work that must have gone into each piece.
In the centre of the exhibition sits the Cabinet of Curiosities an avant garde fashionista’s treasure chest. A square room filled floor to ceiling with fashion and accessories created in collaboration with other designers such as milliner Philip Treacy and jeweller Shaun Leane. The pieces range from the artistic to the sadistic, as if McQueen’s mind exploded on the walls. Dramatic wide hipped beaded dresses, moulded torsos, coiled corsets, fantastical Philip Treacy head creations with feather butterflies, cages and horns, tribal inspired metal jewellery, nude shoes with moulded toes and the famous python skinned “Armadillo” shoes. There were screens showing footage of the catwalk shows which brought the pieces to life. I have a new found respect for the models who managed to walk down the runway without so much as a wobble in those Armadillo heels. In the middle of the room is the standout dress from McQueen’s S/S 1999 show. The full skirted white dress was worn by a model in the show finale who stood on a turntable and was dramatically spray painted by robotic arms. It was great to see the piece up close, the 16 year old paint slightly faded.
As you leave the Cabinet there is a stunning white gown on display. The gown was worn by Kate Moss in McQueen’s Widows of Culloden show. In the show she appeared as a hologram encased in a glass pyramid and as you continue around the corner there is the glass pyramid and the hologram as it appeared in the show. Ethereal, haunting and utterly mesmerising I couldn’t take my eyes off of the delicate fabric as it danced around Kate’s silhouette. For me it was the highlight of the exhibition. You can see a video of the original catwalk show here.
Other standout pieces for me were: a gold painted feather jacket over a delicate beaded net skirt from the Angels & Demons show; a full on dramatic shouldered black duck feather dress from the Horn a Plenty show; a military inspired embroidered coat with asymmetric tail from the Dante show; a dress made of glass medical slides and ostrich feathers and another made from razor clam shells, both from the Voss show; and a giant Chinese wooden fan as a skirt with a top reminiscent of a straight jacket. This list could go on and on.
When it came to an end I wanted to turn around and do it all again. Unfortunately your not allowed to take pictures in the exhibition (you have to purchase the book!), but if you’re a fan of wearable art (to call them merely clothes would be an insult) you should plan a visit (see the V&A website for details). I’ve come home feeling very inspired to be creative.
Until Next Time! Dx