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Editor’s Choice: Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty


mcqueen savage 1It has been over a month since Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty opened its doors at London’s V&A and yet the tickets keep selling and the crowds keep coming. The allure of this exhibition goes further than fashion; you could say that McQueen was more of an artist; his inspiration and creativity ran far deeper than a successful career in well-cut clothes.

To view his work in close detail from his MA graduate collection through to his final A/W 2010 designs is a privilege, and I would suggest a compulsory must-see for fashion design students. From the very first room you can hear McQueen’s words of wisdom echoing around the space.

Of course I make mistakes. I’m human. If I didn’t make mistakes, I’d never learn. You can only go forward by making mistakes.” Alexander McQueen

He was also an advocate for completely understanding your craft before creating your own signature.

“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

The exhibition spans 244 items across 10 very different rooms that take you on an emotional journey complete with sound, film and décor, each room explores key concepts within McQueen’s work, focusing on a specific collection. More than just a selection of well-put-together esthetics McQueen captivates with his creative interpretations on nature, culture, religion and quite often, death.

“I oscillate between life and death, happiness and sadness, good and evil.” – Alexander McQueen

The room entitled ‘The Cabinet of Curiosities’ makes you feel like a small ant trapped inside a jewellery box packed with gems, your eyes frantically dart around at the boxed treasures displayed from floor to ceiling, which includes designs, video footage and accessories. Meanwhile McQueen’s iconic spray-painted trapeze dress worn by Shalom Harlow rotates in the centre in the room while all you can do is gaze at the wonder of it all.

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McQueen described himself as a “romantic schizophrenic” and his notion of mortality and the fleeting presence of beauty are present in much of his work. In particular the ethereal film of Kate Moss, a poignant finale to The Widows of Culloden collection, that featured the model suspended in yards of flowing chiffon slowly fading away until just a mere speck of light that finally explodes into the darkness.

As you leave the exhibition the final quote reads: “There is no way back for me now. I’m going to take you on journeys you’ve never dreamed were possible.” Alexander McQueen – you can’t help but feel sad that this refreshing creative talent that left school with just one O-level and through sheer passion, graft and vision created this incredible body of work is no longer with us.

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This is one not to miss, just remember to book in advance for a date and time slot.

All images courtesy of the V&A press office

By JoJo Iles

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