I first saw the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art back in 2011, and it stuck with me as one of the most awe inspiring demonstrations of talent I have ever seen. Now located at London's Victoria & Albert Museum, it remains a true celebration of creativity in fashion and goes on to surpass its first outing. The London show features 66 additional garments and accessories, including his rare early work lent by private individuals. The exhibition showcases McQueen's design in a way that is theatrical and thrilling, becoming a truly unmissable experience.
"The collections at the V&A never fail to intrigue and inspire me. The nation is privileged to have access to such a resource... it's the sort of place I'd like to be shut in overnight." Alexander McQueen
As you enter the exhibition, you are met with the face of Alexander McQueen merging into his trademark skull, which for me signified the work and the person merging into the visionary he became. Known for his legendary catwalks and theatrical style, this has been translated into exhibition form. The lighting conveys a dramatic tone and meticulous detail has been taken in each mannequin and how it is displayed. You are taken on a journey through the years and collections of work. The settings, the sounds and even the scents seem to change along the path, as you are immersed into his creative vision. It comes as no surprise that Gainsbury and Whiting, the production company that staged many of McQueen's catwalk shows have worked with the V&A on the project. Ornate gold cases house the garments in one room with bones and skulls lining the walls of another. There is a very fashion forward look to the exhibition that compliments the work and dares to be different. Seeing the figures in glass cases, looked to me as though the mannequins had been cryogenically frozen, a fashion moment frozen in time.
The work of Alexander McQueen truly lends itself to the exhibition setting, giving instant impact from a far, yet showing great intricacy and detail up close. One room, entitled the "Cabinet of Curiosities", is an overpowering collection of garments, headpieces and videos of catwalk shows literally lining the walls from floor to ceiling. It's a wonderful presentation that showcases the sheer range of his creativity and in a manner that's breathtaking.
The show is filled with inspiring creations that remain as exciting today as their first outing on the catwalk. It showcases the range of references that he drew from in his collections and celebrates his daring nature, delivering garments that are not restricted purely by function. The work is art, theatre and fashion combined. You are on a journey from Gothic to Naturalism, and ending up with the futuristic Plato's Atlantis collection.
The much-anticipated Savage Beauty exhibition does more than live up to the hype, with the Victoria & Albert delivering an engaging and well-constructed presentation of high fashion. It's an experience that is moving, inspiring and a fitting celebration of Alexander McQueen's extraordinary talent.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Victoria & Albert until 2 August 2015
Photos: V&A/Alexander McQueen