I like to think of myself as a plastic surgeon with a knife.
I oscillate between life and death, happiness and sadness, good and evil.
I want to be the purveyor of a certain silhouette or a way of cutting so that when I’m dead and gone, people will know that the 21st century was started by Alexander McQueen.
During a recent, whirlwind jaunt in New York, I had the chance to visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art and soak in Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. The show opened on May 4, and is now extended to August 7, 2011 (was originally supposed to conclude on July 31, 2011, but was stretched out, due to the overwhelming traffic and responsive success).
Needless to say, it was a brilliant and stunning collection of mind-obliterating work that was coupled with an appropriately expert level of curation by Andrew Bolton. Just awesome and amazing. There is not enough hyperbole. This was one of the best shows I have seen this part of the decade. What a shame and utter waste that Alexander McQueen, this prolific showman, is not practicing his craft on this earth anymore. It was almost overwhelming taking in this dense tableau; I would have shed a tear if I was in the exhibit for another minute. Alexander McQueen is a fashion deity.
If you are in the New York area, I am urging you to attend this show. You need not be a connoisseur, student of fashion or fashionista to appreciate this collection. It is well worth your wait and time of travel. God save McQueen.
The exhibition, organized by The Costume Institute, celebrates the late Alexander McQueen’s extraordinary contributions to fashion. From his Central Saint Martins postgraduate collection of 1992 to his final runway presentation, which took place after his death in February 2010, Mr. McQueen challenged and expanded the understanding of fashion beyond utility to a conceptual expression of culture, politics, and identity. His iconic designs constitute the work of an artist whose medium of expression was fashion. The exhibition will feature approximately one hundred ensembles and seventy accessories from Mr. McQueen’s prolific nineteen-year career. Drawn primarily from the Alexander McQueen Archive in London, with some pieces from the Givenchy Archive in Paris as well as private collections, signature designs including the “bumster” trouser, the kimono jacket, and the three-point “origami” frock coat will be on view. McQueen’s fashions often referenced the exaggerated silhouettes of the 1860s, 1880s, 1890s, and 1950s, but his technical ingenuity always imbued his designs with an innovative sensibility that kept him at the vanguard.
The exhibition is organized by Andrew Bolton, curator, with the support of Harold Koda, curator in charge, both of The Costume Institute. Sam Gainsbury and Joseph Bennett, the production designers for Alexander McQueen’s fashion shows, served as the exhibition’s creative director and production designer, respectively. All head treatments and masks are designed by Guido.
- About the Exhibition
- While it is still up, check out this collection of videos with transcripts (Andrew Bolton’s video narrations)
- Art Review by Holland Cotter from The New York Times: Designer as Dramatist, and the Tales He Left Behind
- Buy the book
- See the full runway shows in the archive at alexandermcqueen.com
(all images from The Metropolitan Museum of Art)