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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Met

Shocking, visionary, artist, a true designer. Alexander McQueen's death shocked and saddened many of the fashion world, but his creative legacy is eternal. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC launches Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty today. The extensive exhibit is one of the most elaborate, dramatic tributes to a designer I have ever seen.

The Savage Beauty Exhibit is a portrait of fashion genius:

The exhibit opens with two mannequins in a darkened foyer. One dressed in an ombre red feather gown, the other in a sculpted dress made of razor shells. You then proceed into soaring black-walled halls with antiqued gilded mirrors and horror movie sound effects.  The display of impeccably tailored black suits showed of McQueen's Savile Row background, but the rebellious variations of draping and corset finishing were all his vision. This was the most sedate part of the exhibit.
The opposite side of the room contained gloriously rich black gowns of Gothic fantasy. Influences like Tim Burton were named.

The "Cabinet of Curiosities" room contained displays of hats and accessories made for Alexander McQueen. A flurry of butterflies from Philip Treacy, Samurai armor, inspired headpieces, sculpted shoes in the shape of a mutated spine. In one corner, was the infamous trapeze-like dress worn by Shalom Harlow for the Spring 1999 show.  She was spun around mechanically on the runway and spray painted with robotic nozzles.

The next rooms contained an elegant tribute to the Scottish Highlands of his ancestry. Jeweled gowns, billowing velvet capes, and gorgeous tartans were on display. This transitioned into the controversial "Highland Rape" collection of Fall 1995/1996. There were simpler chiffon dresses in Earth tartans shredded, placed in a distressed wooden set.

The next gallery was an exploration into Romantic Exoticism. Traditional techniques of layered Chinese and Japanese embroidered were heavily worked into avant-garde interpretations of historical Asian silhouettes. An exquisite, but tongue-in-cheek expression of traditional Japanese armor was presented in the form of a lotus-printed football helmet. A dress of large mother of pearl paillettes was a terrific modern take on the pearl embroideries of the past.

If you want to be wowed by one of the most prolific designers of our time, get over to the Metropolitan Museum from May 4–(revised) AUG 7, 2011.

Can't make it to the exhibit?  The museum has published a gorgeous hardcover catalog of the show on order online.  
Photos courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Check out MsFAB & Ladies Who Lunch's video diary of the event:

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