Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A
This year the V&A celebrates one of the most influential fashion designers of our time with the spectacular exhibition Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. Renowned for his dramatically staged catwalks, McQueen adhered to no rules and saw no limits. His wild vision and innovative methods did not, however, draw him away from a deep attachment to traditions and solid craftsmanship. Although impractical and eccentric, even his most daring and shocking creations ooze beauty and elegance and have contributed to influence the fashion tendencies of the past 20 years.
It is a real treat to see his most iconic pieces displayed alongside his early, lesser known collections. With all his creations compressed into one space, his unique, bold, creative energy really comes alive. Visitors are also able to admire impressive accessories made exclusively for the catwalk. The very existence of show pieces that were never destined for production relays his genuine delight in creating art for its own sake.
McQueen’s imagination seems to know no boundaries. From royal to tribal, from sacred to profane, from nationalism to fetishism and futurism, he traverses the entire spectrum of the human social experience and chases each subject down to its very depths. This openness in his approach is also reflected in his designs and his relationship with materials. Glass, leather, diamonds, wood and hair have all been used ingeniously to adorn his garments and headpieces.
His career is closely connected with London, which now repays him with this homage to his talent. He described the V&A as a source of inspiration, and the museum did not fail to do him justice and to capture his vision in the most compelling of ways. Divided into ten rooms, each part of the exhibition focuses on a theme explored by McQueen. Atmospheric music, videos and installations provide a perfect accompaniment to all the visual stimuli that his collections offer. The gem of the exhibition is The Cabinet of Curiosities, a beautifully arranged space showcasing McQueen’s most extravagant pieces, but each section has something special to offer and presents its own magic and its own individual mood.
Alexander McQueen’s quest was “to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition”. He seems to have succeeded in this oxymoronic goal, and this exhibition is a testament to the perfect balance between groundbreaking inventiveness and a high regard for history and for the craft. Not only is this event a unique chance to admire modern masterpieces of design, it is above all a fine example of unrestrained imagination, and an ode to free creative expression.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty is on at the V&A until 2nd August 2015, for further information visit here.