Saturday, 4 July 2015

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

I finally made it to the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V & A Museum and it was stunning! I've been dying to see it for ages and it was well worth the wait. This is the first retrospective of his work to be shown in Europe and includes pieces from his graduate show, right through to his final collection Autumn/Winter 2010. Not surprisingly the exhibition was displayed with drama and a sense of spectacle, with each collection shown in a different room and a setting befitting the clothing it showcased.

McQueen left school at 15 to become an apprentice on Saville Row and then went on to study fashion at Central Saint Martins where he learned how to be a fashion designer. This combination of highly proficient and inventive tailoring, mixed with a sense of inspirational and highly original fashion design, meant that each collection was a masterpiece. And they were stunning to see up close where you get to see his workmanship and tailoring as well as attention to detail and, of course the surreal and dark elements that gave him his trademark look.

Dark Gothic feathers and a smudge of red lipstick against pale white skin.
Birds and feather motifs became an inspiration for a few of his collections.

Mc Queen returns to his ancestral roots with a line of tartan outfits accessorised with stunning face masks decorated with Swarovski crystals.

These collections were shown in display cases reminiscent of a Victorian museum and included the ghostly bride as centre stage with floor length tiered antique lace and an antler headpiece.

His Spring/Summer 2001 collection  included the reworked kimono in richly-embroidered silk. Each item was displayed in a mirrored booth as if in a music box.

The famous spray-painted dress from his Spring/Summer 1999 show was centre stage in one room, surrounded by endless items of clothing and accessories from his shows and displayed as if in a cabinet of curiosities. There were also many different screens showing his fashion shows over the years, each one was so theatrical. I could have spent hours in this room.

The Spring/Summer 2010 collection was his final, and is beautifully space-age and sculptured with prints inspired by reptile skin. This was where his famous 'Armadillo' shoe was first shown.

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