Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

I've never fancied myself an Alexander McQueen fan but after viewing the new Savage Beauty exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art honoring the late designer, I will be one for life. It is one of the best Costume Institute shows that I have ever seen.  Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton have not only assembled a gorgeous collection of clothing but have created a venue that perfectly complement their often eccentric designs. “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind” was a Shakespeeare quote that Alexander McQueen had inked on his arm that was the inspiration for the show. Andrew Bolton explained that in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the line is said by Helena, someone who believed that love could transform something grotesque into something beautiful, a theme you see in much of McQueen's work.

New York Times fashion critic commented after viewing the Alexander McQueen exhibit that "what I couldn't get over was that he had done all this work by the time he was 40."  It's clear that his apprenticeships with Savile Row tailors and his education at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design served as an amazing training ground.  He is quoted in the show as saying, "I spent a lot of time learning how to construct clothes, which is important to do before you can deconstruct them."

Alexander McQueen committed suicide right before New York fashion week in 2010 and there is haunting quality of death in much of his work and even the exhibition catalog cover. "The Victorian era greatly influenced me: the austerity, the severity, the melancholy," he said. Many people at the preview were moved to tears and the show is a very moving tribute to this incredibly gifted designer.  His friend Stella McCartney who spoke at the preview said, "When you see the show, you remember all of them instantly. You're surprised by the amount of incredible shows that he had." We can only image what he might have done had he not left the world of fashion so early but Savage Beauty is wonderful tribute and definitely worth a visit.

Look who else was at the preview! It's Bill Cunningham!

Photos by Heather Clawson for Habitually Chic except #1 courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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