The Alexander McQueen ‘Savage Beauty’ exhibit has been on view since March & with only 3 weeks (give or take a few days left) I decided that I HAD to go see it! So after running around for tickets, sorting out travel etc, me and my sister set off early (and I do mean early) to London. We got there about just after 8am and there was only less then 10 people waiting. By 9am there was about 50+ and counting. By 10am, the queues to get into the exhibit were long and continuous. Tell you what though, getting there early was so worth it! We went in straight away and took it all in.
It was glorious, GLORIOUS I tell you! It was such a captivating journey, with the custom built interior sets, the curated fashion pieces and the accompanied music choices, the stage was well and truly set. I freaked when I saw one of my favourite McQueen designs! Seeing these wild and gorgeous designs in the flesh was just incredible. In person you could see the tailored detailing, the fabric properties, the shimmering reflections, even the forgivable flaws too. But I regret not going around a second time (totally should have done that!) Because you can’t take photos (or even sketch) in the exhibit (lame), I’d tracked down some shots of some of the pieces that were ultimate ‘stand-out’ creations.
I remember back at uni (during postgrad) when it came to doing my fashion-meets-architecture project work, I would draw my quite a lot of my inspiration from couture pieces. Including Alexander McQueen. The guy had talent unlike no other, and I mean raw-talent! You could see the creativity, the depth, the emotion and the fire in his work. Whether its pieces from his harrowing “Horn A Plenty” or his exotic “Plato’s Atlantis” collections, each and every collection was more than just about the clothes and the models who wore them. There were narratives behind the design and the structure. Think theatrical fashion meets narrative art.
Here’s a little backstory behind the famed designer. He was a London native, born and bred, attended Central Saint Martins and worked with chief designer at Givenchy before creating his own label. Alexander’s story is was quite ‘in-flux’, having grown up in a big, working-class family, realised he was gay at only 6 years old, apprenticed on Savile Row and was close with the likes of Isabella Blow. Alexander was chief designer at luxury brand Givenchy from 1996 right up until 2001, when he launched his own label (a subsidiary of the Gucci Group). He won many accolades, including the British Designer of the year in 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2003. He also won the CFDA’s International Designer of the Year award in 2003. He also was honoured with a CBE of the Order of the British Empire. He had worked with the likes of David Bowie, Björk, Ayumi Hamasaki and Lady Gaga, as well having the likes of Naomi Campbell & Kate Moss championing his designs. It’s worth reading up on Alexander’s extraordinary history, there’s a definite mix of promise & turmoil, adjacent to his bursting stardom and inner demons.
I don’t think I could choose A favourite. It’s impossible, I mean really. I have favourites though! When you see his work, whether in print, video or in real life, Alexander’s work is like a story intertwined in manifested fashion. His pieces were very much theatrical, almost to the point of being performance art. From the attention to detail, to the framing and fit of a design, each piece has a lot of thought and effort put into it. His fashion was his life’s work and you can see that in spades! He channelled his life experiences through his work and it’s quite the journey. After his passing back in 2010, his legacy has continued to reach far and wide. The designer’s hugely known for a number of things. Besides his tailoring expertise, bizarre designs and his penchant for the theatrics, he’s known for his infamous skull print design, use of unconventional models. His successor, Sarah Burton has done a wonderful job in continuing on the brand and legacy of McQueen. Having dressed the likes of Michelle Obama, Cate Blanchett & Lady Gaga, her greatest work is perhaps the Duchess Catherine’s wedding dress back in 2011.
You can see all of Alexander’s shows and his successor Burton’s shows on style.com.
Also because last week was the AW15 Couture collections in Paris, see our top 5 picks from each designer here. (Protip: It was HARD to pick just five so you can see all of them in their glory on style.com).
There’s still time to go see the exhibit, which I cannot recommend enough! Be warned, online tickets are going warp-speed fast so check here and if there isn’t anything, don’t fret. They are doing up to 500 tickets on the door per day from 10am. Just turn up early!