FIRST LOOK: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at The V&A

This morning I had the opportunity to view The V&A's retrospective of the work by Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.  As I an...

This morning I had the opportunity to view The V&A's retrospective of the work by Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.  As I announced back in October, when I attended the preview, the exhibition has expanded since its beginning at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, and comprises of ten sections with an additional 66 garments not previously exhibited.

Without going into too much detail, because you need to see it for yourself, I will give you an overview of what you will see.

Savage Beauty showcases the dominant themes and concepts within McQueen's collections. Among the sections are rooms that reference McQueen's London roots, his skilled tailoring and craftsmanship, his fascination with the animal world and the frequent references to Victorian Gothic traditions. Although at the heart of every room, within the exhibition, showcases McQueen's innovative imagination, whether that's technical masterpieces - a dress made from razor clams from Voss SS01,  spell binding creations - a coat dress made from perfectly formed golden duck feathers AW10 or the controversial intensity of the Highland Rape collection.

Savage Beauty doesn't seek to document biographically or make connections to McQueen's cultural influences or pose questions, if you are looking for context I suggest you buy the accompanying book by Savage Beauty curator, Claire Wilcox, however regardless of the omissions Savage Beauty is a meticulous presentation which allows the clothes to do the talking.   This is one exhibition where you will find the sublime to the disturbing, an uncompromising presentation of a tortured soul who challenged convention, pushed boundaries we were unaware existed before he broke them down and created garments which were not only aesthetically exquisite and sublime to gaze at but also contentious.

The exhibition didn't transport me into McQueen’s dark and mostly disturbing world, instead it highlighted his celebrated skill and artistry as a designer and thus I experienced a combination of emotions. I felt joyous that we had this opportunity to celebrate designs and ideas that make us question ourselves, the world and the industry but I felt sad at the loss of such an original and irreplaceable talent. I left wanting more especially when I exited the exhibition to see this poignant quote, inscribed on the wall. McQueen in his own words.. ‘there is no way back for me now. I’m going to take you on journeys you’ve never dreamed were possible'. I may or may not have liked the journeys but I definitely would have had an opinion and essentially that was all McQueen wanted us to have.

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