Thursday, June 2, 2011

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

One of the highlights of my trip to NYC last week was my first visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, and their feature exhibition Alexander McQueen, Savage Beauty

Curated by Andrew Bolton, I was so impressed - it was one of the most beautifully displayed exhibits I've ever seen.  There was so much to see the exhibit was spread out thru several rooms, even moving constantly thru the space, just taking time to read the brief text, it took more than an hour to see it all.  My two favorite collections were the Romantic Mind and Romantic Nationalism rooms.

The Romantic Mind, photo from
I loved these pieces because unlike many of the more theatrical, highly conceptual pieces these were everyday wearable pieces (stunning pieces mind you), most were donated from the closets of McQueen's private clients.  These pieces were accompanied by a memorable quote and I can't recall the exact wording but it was something like his goal was to design clothes that would make a woman look and feel powerful and make others fear them - an interesting statement when you consider this is the design house who designed the royal wedding dress we saw last month.

Romantic Nationalism, photo from
I thought these pieces were both regal and fairy tale like, steeped in historicism but cut with very modern silhouettes.......they transcend time.

As an exhibit the collections are a wonderful example of how expressive fashion can be as an art form, and I don't think most people view fashion as art.  The designer had more than just aesthetic concepts to his work,,,,his designs made statements, conveying messages which were often deep, dark, complex ideas.  

Alexander McQueen's precision tailoring skills were brilliantly paired with his creative use of unstructured drapery and dressmaking techniques.  As a designer, I especially loved this and think that his work is a great testament to how artists/designers can only achieve their highest level of creativity (success) when they've mastered the technical aspects of their craft.  I've always been a firm believer in that philosophy,,,,,yes its possible you may be 'born' with creative genes/energy but learning how to apply that creativity to a chosen craft and be able to master it confidently (or revolutionize it) can only come from training, apprenticing, and experience.  

To see the depth of his talent thru this exhibit you can't help but leave feeling sadness over such a tragic loss of life, and perplexed at how someone so talented and successful could have possibly been so tormented.

If you're in NYC between now and August 7th, I highly recommend the show, but be warned there can be a 45 min or longer wait.  If you can't make it in person,,the link I've provided above and below has fantastic images and narrative.

There's a book available as well which looks incredible, I had a chance to flip thru it in the Museum shop, its a large book with fantastic photos.  I didn't purchase it while it was there because it was simply too heavy for me to carry around for the rest of the day - I'm going to order one online.

Top Photo:  Carol Reed
All other Photos:


  1. To make others fear them??? How extraordinary. But it explains much about his sadly tormented frame of mind. Perhaps to produce such amazing artworks (as you call them and I agree) one would have to be sort-of tormented. Like Van Gogh, Dali, etc.

    What an incredible opportunity to see this exhibition.

  2. As if you were feared meant you were powerful? I'll have to dig up the exact wording of the quote, thought it was extraordinary as you said. Hopefully the exhibit will travel and you'll have to opportunity to see it too, otherwise the book is the next best thing.

  3. I received my book from the show about 2 weeks ago, so worth having... I hope the exhibit travels, would love to see the pieces in person, you are so lucky to have been in ny.


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