‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

May 3rd, 2011 by HFL Staff received Comments Off


If you’ll be in New York before August, do yourself a favor and go see Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This exhibit beautifully articulates the brilliance and passion that tortured Lee McQueen his entire life. It’s the most powerful, most communicative fashion exhibit seen to date.  (above: a hologram of Kate Moss in a flowing white gown is especially haunting)


I walked out of the Met this morning struck silent by the technical skill and utter originality of McQueen’s work. The inescapable relationship between his glee in flaunting the status quo, his readiness to expose wrongs and the painfully dark side of his character that fueled his art left me awed–and a little sad. Curator Andrew Bolton gives us much to absorb.


The exhibit features more than 100 ensembles and 70 accessories spanning his 16-year career; guests walk through chambers chronicling early work for St. Martins through such collections as “Highland Rape,” “Jungle,” “Sarabande,” “The Girl Who Lived in the Tree,” and his posthumous “Plato’s Atlantis.”  (L-R: Hamish Bowles, Anna Wintour, McQueen Creative Director Sarah Burton, Stella McCartney, Met Curator Andrew Bolton.)


Iconic pieces–the butterfly hat, the crimson hooded cape that graced ads for Vogue, the armadillo boots Lady Gaga wore–are gratifyingly available for a close inspection that serves only to increase astonishment at the genius of the work. The entire exhibit is couched in the idea that McQueen was a romantic.


Gothic historicity, naturalism, nationalism, exoticism, primitivism–each filtered through the lens of a romanticism obsessed with life and death–have a part in the show.


Eerie music, wolves howling and creepy footage of McQueen’s short films fill the gaps; a hologram of Kate Moss in a flowing white gown is especially haunting. McQueen’s own words painted on black walls throughout the show add the final touch.


They sound like he had planned this display all along: “I oscillate between life and death, happiness and sadness, good and evil.” Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty runs May 4 – July 30. It is well worth the $20 entry fee. It’s going to be huge.  Forbes.com


Hamish Bowles with Met Curator Andrew Bolton.


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