Wednesday 11 May 2011

Art-iculate: Alexander McQueen - Savage Beauty

An exhibition on the other side of the pond that I’ve long been looking forward to both hearing and writing about finally opened on Wednesday; Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, which comprises the spring 2011 Costume Institute exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Alexander McQueen (British, 1969-2010). Dress, autumn/winter 2010. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce
Celebrating McQueen’s career and design highlights, this retrospective of sorts spans from his Central Saint Martins postgraduate collection of 1992 - infamously snapped up by Isabella Blow - to his final catwalk presentation, which took place in Paris shortly after his death in February 2010. Paying particular attention to McQueen’s superior understanding of fashion beyond utility, this exhibition seeks to highlight his conceptual expression of culture, politics, and identity – which earned him international acclaim and reverence.
Alexander McQueen (British, 1969-2010). Ensemble, Plato’s Atlantis, spring/summer 2010. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce
Located in the Metropolitan Museum’s second-floor Cantor Galleries, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty features approximately 100 ensembles and 70 accessories from McQueen’s prolific 19-year career. Borrowed primarily from the Alexander McQueen Archive here in London - a few select pieces from the Givenchy Archive in Paris are also included as well as covetable pieces held in private collections – stand-out pieces include the bumster trousers, the kimono jacket, and the three-point “origami” frock coat.
Gallery View – Romantic Nationalism, Highland Rape. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Much loved for his referencing of late 19th Century silhouettes and the odd 1950’s-inspired piece, McQueen’s technical ingenuity was his currency, earning him four awards as the British Fashion Council’s ‘Designer of the Year’ in 1996, 1997, 2001 and lastly in 2003. With no current plans to send this eagerly anticipated exhibition on tour, I defy anyone visiting New York before 31st July not to visit.

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