Savage Beauty: Alexander McQueen’s Amazing Fashion

NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute has mounted a breathtaking exhibit of over 100 pieces from the archives of the late designer Alexander McQueen. I went on a pilgrimage to see,…           it was beyond amazing.

The extraordinarily fine workmanship, the fantastically odd and wistfully beautiful designs, the shoes- like sculpture for feet, the jewelry, the head pieces, videos from his fashion shows, the plaintive music, the gallery rooms themselves, all made for the best museum exhibit ever.

The lines,… the lines were long. The word is out, this is a show to see.

Can you read what the sign says?  “Line wait from this point, 1 hour and 15 minutes.”

Luckily, I had arrived earlier in the day, so missed the marathon lines, my waits, one day 15 minutes the next, half hour. [Yes,.. I went twice,… so worth it.]

Once in, glorious things. My senses were overwhelmed. So beautiful.

There were no photos allowed, the guards were adamant. I drew like crazy and pushed my way through the throngs of people to see.

These beautiful photographs are from the MET website. They have the clips from the audio guide, videos and many beautiful photographs.

McQueen was a romantic, in the 18th and 19th century’s sense of the word. Romanticism was a reaction to the rationalism of the Age of Enlightenment. Instead of science, it looked to the aesthetic beauty of the untamed natural world.

McQueen’s  juxtapositions of the macabre and the beautiful remind me of the Japanese word, ‘hakanasa‘, the concept that beauty and pain exist together and cannot be separated.

A dress of dyed duck feathers, from the 2009 collection ‘Horn of Plenty’.

From McQueen’s collection ‘Voss’, fabric from a Japanese screen, re-crafted into a dress, over a layer of oyster shells laid out like giant sequins. Over the shoulders is one of Shaun Leane’s jewelry pieces, a collar of thorns and Tahitian pearls.

The Oyster dress from the ‘Irere’ collection, a story of a shipwreck.

McQueen said, ” What I do is an artistic expression which is channeled through me, fashion is just the medium.”

His last collection, from 2010, ‘Plato’s Atlantis’. It looked to a future where, McQueen explained, “the ice cap would melt… the waters would rise and… life on earth would have to evolve in order to live beneath the sea once more or perish. Humanity would go back to the place from whence it came.”

Want more? Go to the McQueen website to see all of his collections and fashion shows.

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  1. Posted June 10, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Where in the museum was the exhibit? The last few times I’ve been to the Met, the underground fashion wing was closed, with no shows mounted. Looks like there were a many long-deprived fashion exhibit consumers in that line…

    • Posted June 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Savage Beauty is on the second floor in the Iris and B. Harold Cantor Exhibition Hall, close to the 19th century painting and sculpture rooms. But that’s not how I found the exhibit, instead I followed the flow of people and the gesturing museum guides who were chanting, “Savage Beauty, this way. Savage Beauty, this way….”

  2. Christina G Sells
    Posted June 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    These works are stunning, Ann! I see why you really wanted to see this show! Glad you got that pencil working and truly felt the work in the way that drawing makes you feel it. Can’t wait to see how this masters work filters into your wonderful and evolving body of work!

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