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Savage Beauty: Fashion can be art

661,509 fans viewed Alexander McQueen’s retrospective (1992-2010) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 4 months the exhibit ran. The Savage Beauty exhibit was one of the biggest exhibits in the Met’s history. Because of it’s popularity, there is currently a push for the exhibit to tour and at the least reside temporarily in McQueen’s hometown of London. So if you missed the experience in New York, watch for news on another viewing location.  As Echo’s Senior design manager Sarah Frank points out in her assessment of the exhibit below, McQueen’s work isn’t just clothing design, it’s art.  And art deserves to be shared and experienced. For that reason, we hope the quest for a global tour is successful. In the meantime, metmuseum.org has thoroughly comprehensive look at the exhibit as a whole, as well as with in-depth analysis of particular works, as seen in the video here http://blog.metmuseum.org/alexandermcqueen/video/ narrated by Andrew Bolton, the curator of the Met’s costume institute and of the exhibition Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.  Here is one designer’s view of the exhibit:

“I have seen some of the greatest fashion retrospectives over the years: Yves St. Laurent, Christian LaCroix curating the Musee De La Mode in Paris, Poiret at the Met and Fortuny in Venice.  All were splendid but Savage Beauty by Alexander McQueen at The Met show wins the gold.

McQueen was a visionary who combined themes from history, literature and nature with the talent of a sculptor. Imagine a Victorian style jacket made from yoga mats covered in embroidered chinese flowers made from raffia. Another piece of chinoiserie is a dress made from 100 abalone shells that have been wired together like giant paillettes and partially covered with an embroidered sheath.

The title of the show is Savage Beauty which is very apt. There is a tortured opulence about the clothes and accessories. Many garments are created with vast amounts of shredded fabrics, fringes and feathers which creates an eerie volume. There are heavy sculptural accessories which look like they could pierce through your skin were you to wear them.  Even classic McQueen tartans are slashed and pieced with lace and tuille in a collection called ‘highland rape’ which is a nod to McQueen’s native Scotland.

The curation is beautiful. The rooms are dark with lugubrious music playing. The mannequins are battered and patched in contrast to the opulant garments.  All the shredded dresses have fans behind them to illuminate the movement in these pieces.  All the accessories are housed in dark wood cubbies which run floor to ceiling in a room that resembles a Victorian cabinet of curiosities.

Fashion can be fun, fabulous and a chronicle of history. Rarely is it art. But, this show proves fashion can be art. Savage Beauty is a tribute to the tortured genius with a visionary approach to clothing.”

1 Reply
  1. maureen rankin |

    Great article on a rare fashion genius!

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