Alexander McQueen at the Met Museum
“You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.”—Alexander McQueen
Spanning the career of one of fashion’s greatest, “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” is a stunning thematic (rather than chronological) retrospective of designs and collaborations from McQueen’s almost two decades in fashion through the lens of Romanticism. The exhibition opens with two contrasting showpieces, a red gown made from dyed medical slides and a white dress composed of bleached razor clam shells, and continues with more muted pieces from McQueen’s masters graduate collection entitled “Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims,” and tailored wool separates from the Taxi Driver collection that echo’ed his Saville Row training in their precise construction. “I spent a long time learning how to construct clothes, which is important to do before you can deconstruct them,” McQueen once said.
The overwhelmingly popular (read: very, very crowded) exhibition includes pieces from the McQueen archives as well as private collections, examples of his designs for Givenchy Haute Couture, and a room full of accessories designed in collaboration with milliners and jewelers such as Dai Rees and Philip Treacy. Iconic pieces from popular and controversial collections such as “Highland Rape” (Fall 1995) and “Plato’s Atlantis” (Spring 2010) are set alongside videos of infamous McQueen runway presentations and even the now famous hologram of Kate Moss. From the detailed mannequin masks and head treatments by Guido Palau to light and wind-based displays that emphasize the movement of the clothes, in short “Savage Beauty” is an exquisite and impressive homage to one of contemporary fashion’s boldest voices, and is sure to be this summer’s must-see exhibition.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty runs until July 31, 2011 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC