“WHEN I AM DEAD AND GONE, “PEOPLE WILL KNOW THE 21ST CENTURY WAS STARTED BY ME.”
Truthfully and spookily spoken by designer Alexander McQueen. Ever since taking his own very untimely life in 2010 at the age of 40, no one can deny that McQueen has given more life to the fashion industry than we’ve known in years. A true fashion artist!This statement is now written on a gallery wall at the Victoria & Albert Museum, in London, where the recently opened exhibition “Savage Beauty” showcases the design genius’s unsurpassed creations. (The show runs through August 2, 2015) If you’re in London and are a fashion fiend you must run to see it. A fashion designer friend raved about it.
The original “Savage Beauty” was held in New York, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, in 2011. It debuted there to glowing reviews – visitors thought it was brilliant. More than 660,000 people attended the show, making it the Met’s eighth most popular exhibition ever.It is not surprising, then, that upon hearing about the V&A’s plans to re-stage “Savage Beauty,” many fashion insiders found it hard to imagine how a second outing — or the enthusiasm greeting it — could match what the Met achieved. But, as it turns out, Claire Wilcox, the London museum’s senior curator of fashion, has showcased McQueen’s prodigious talent in such a dramatic manner that even second-time viewers will be awed and moved. Without a doubt, “Savage Beauty” is the best fashion exhibition the V&A has put on in recent memory.
Wilcox has put more focus on McQueen’s London roots. Most of his degree show from Central Saint Martins is displayed along with original runway samples. (Missing in New York, many of these outfits were purchased by Isabella Blow, the fashion editor and McQueen mentor/muse who also committed suicide, in 2007.) Overall, this show displays many more designs than were seen at the Met, which is surprising since the U.K. usually proclaims small is beautiful and the U.S. big is best.The section labeled “Cabinet of Curiosities” is now twice as large, a vast black cavern where flickering videos of runway shows are interspersed with fantastical accessories against an auditory backdrop of hallucinatory music. One could spend hours in this room alone — especially if under the influence of a hallucinatory substance (and apparently that might be the case according to some of the fellow show-goers looking around the space).
As writer Clair Watson said after having departed from the Met’s “Savage Beauty” emotionally wrung-out: “I staggered out of this version completely overwhelmed — how much brilliance can a person take?” Which begs the question: How much more agonized brilliance could McQueen have lived with? Five years after his death, there is enough distance to acknowledge that, just as he said, he indeed make an indelible artistic mark that we can now see, more clearly.
Source: Clair Watson – “The Unbearable Beauty of McQueen” Photos: google images unless otherwise stated