Illustrated Exhibition Review of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Victoria and Albert Museum ~ June Sees
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Illustrated Exhibition Review of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Victoria and Albert Museum

 

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Hello Friends,

Have you seen ‘Savage Beauty’ McQueen  Exhibition at the V&A yet? 

The V&A will open around-the-clock for the final two weekends of the McQueen Exhibition

The V&A will open the around-the-clock to meet the demands for the McQueen Exhibition.

With less than two weeks until the  Mc Queen exhibition finishes, the  V&A  will open  around-the-clock   to meet the  demands.

Tickets, I believed, are  released daily  to the public, you can book  online in  advance. There will be tickets to buy on the day, however, I believed it is  first come first serve.

More than 345,000 people visiting  ‘Savage Beauty’ McQueen Retrospective, it  has become the most visited paid-for exhibition in the last decade.   I am not surprised at how popular this exhibition as been since it has opened this March.

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Installation view of ‘Voss’ Artist: Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A, 2015 Credit: Victoria and Albert Museum, London

I never been to a  late-night gallery show before, I am intrigued to see the exhibition  at 03:00 am.
I went to the McQueen exhibition, twice! I told my husband, he needed to see the exhibition. He loved the  Jean Paul Gaultier  exhibition at the Barbican last  year. I saw the show  the second time and I still noticed more  minute details.

Top Tip: Check out the video installation outside the exhibition. First look at behind-the-scenes, how they built the exhibition space.

McQueen likes to shock  and question fashion. This exhibition is intense, sublime, majestic and haunting.

There is an undeniable air of sombre that  leaves an imprint on the exhibition. It is tragic that McQueen is no longer here with us,  but he has left an impression in world of Fashion.

——

Portrait of Alexander Mc Queen (1969 - 2010) British Fashion Icon by June Sees Illustrator

Portrait of Alexander Mc Queen (1969 – 2010) British Fashion Icon

When you enter, you are introduced to the metamorphic portrait of Alexander McQueen, plunged into darkness, with distant sounds of heavy bass.

This exhibition is a thematic retrospective of the vision and life’s work of British fashion designer, Lee Alexander McQueen.  My word, this exhibition is spectacular.

Having seen the Nick Waplington and Alexander McQueen Photography collaboration at Tate Britain,  I have been looking forward to the  exhibition and seeing the ‘Horn of Plenty’ A/W 2009 collection for real.

The London exhibition  has been redesigned and expanded for the V&A large galleries. It features 66 additional garments and accessories, including rare pieces lent by private collectors.

1._Installation_view_of_London_gallery_Alexander_McQueen_Savage_Beauty_at_the_VA_c_Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_London

Title: Installation view of ‘London’ gallery Artist: Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A Date: 2015 Credit line: Victoria and Albert Museum, London

From McQueen’s graduate show in 1992 to his last A/W collection in 2010, the exhibition is a tribute to his life’s work. Even McQueen’s collection from 1996 has not been on display since the original catwalk.

The curation is carefully considered and delicately done; with the combination of catwalk collections from early to later years, the rooms have a recurring leitmotif and theme.

I love the curatorial decision to  reflect and transform the rooms to its respected concept.  From grey limestones, ornate baroque cases, smooth  oak plinths to printed pattern wallpaper, with a memorable and motivating quotes from McQueen himself.

There are ten sections that showcase the influences  and concepts of McQueen’s womenswear collection. The themes are  London, Savage Mind, Romantic Gothic, Romantic Primitivism,  Romantic Nationalism, Cabinet of Curiosities, Pepper’s Ghost, Romantic Exoticism, Romantic Naturalism, and finally Plato’s Atlantis.

I have to applaud the production company, Gainsbury and Whiting, who first collaborated with McQueen for ‘Widows  of Culloden’  A/W 2006 catwalk show featuring Kate Moss in holographic 3D image, or known as Pepper’s Ghost for the finale. They have recreated this stunning moment, where I can only describe it as being in a Shakespearean story and I am  haunted by an apparition of a person I have lost.

Pepper’s Ghost – a 19th century technique that uses mirror and projections. It was believed that ghosts were called back from the grave using this practice.

Humble Beginnings

What did I learn about McQueen’s life?

McQueen was a son of a taxi driver and the youngest of 6 siblings in the family, born and bred in Lewisham, South East London. He studied an MA in Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins.

McQueen challenged conventions and ideas, which he elicited uneasy pleasures; his subversive tailoring combined with Romantic, Primal, Natural, Ancestral, and Gothic sensibilities.  He was driven by his  fascination with beauty and savagery of the natural world.

Savile Row, London: Reowned street for the Finest tailored suits

Savile Row, London: Reowned street for the Finest tailored suits

From being a tailor’s apprentice at Saville Row, McQueen understood and mastered the craft of tailoring. There was a quote from McQueen in the exhibition, “Everything I do is based on Tailoring.”

It was evident in Waplington’s photos how McQueen was involved in every stage of the collection. He has precision when it comes to pattern cutting, constructing and draping the materials; all of these skills birthed from humble beginnings. He continued to challenge the boundaries of fashion and art, using the latest technology with traditional tailoring.

This is very apparent when you enter the first room of the exhibition purely dedicated to McQueen’s early works, from his graduate show to his first  small-scale studio in a gritty, industrial location in London.

McQueen A/W It's a Jungle Out There 1997, Fashion Illustration

McQueen A/W It’s a Jungle Out There 1997, Fashion Illustration

Music and Nostalgia

As you progress through the sections of the exhibition, each room has similar undertones and a fitting soundtrack. Music plays an integral part  in the exhibition, not only because it added ambience, but invokes  memories and nostalgia.

The one musical theme that frustrates me the most was played in Romantic Nationalism. I realised I cannot recall where the score was from. It’s a music score you’ll remember from film trailers but you’ll never know the name of it.

Maybe because of the patriotism of Scotland, I am thinking the music is from Braveheart. If you do know the name of this music score, comment below! I would love to know.

Romantic Gothic reminded me of the terrifying scene in Return to Oz. The one with the screaming heads. Partially because of the sinister leather head gear with the zipped mouth and Glasgow Smile. I love the attention to detail with the model’s head gear, all in unison and each one unique to the theme; the Mohicans, the leather gear, the mammoth tasks, head jewellery and of course, head pieces.

Texture

I have to comment how McQueen uses specific fabric textures and patterns to evoke uncertainty, discomfort, brutality and unease and it shows in Romantic Primitivism.

McQueen A/W Eshu 2000

McQueen A/W Eshu 2000

McQueen researched deities of the Yoruba myth and African tribes and responded to its theme of survival. Look closer at the dresses and you will notice it consists of crocodiles, horns, skin and real hair.

Collaboration

McQueen championed  teamwork and collaboration, and the huge display at the Cabinet of Curiosities showcases this ethos. In this beautiful, glossy, black room are displayed jewellery, hats and shoes, interspersed  with film footage of nearly all of McQueen’s catwalk shows.

6._Installation_view_of__Cabinet_of_Curiosities_gallery_Alexander_McQueen_Savage_Beauty_at_the_VA_c_Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_London

Title: Installation view of ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ gallery Artist: Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A, 2015 Credit: Victoria and Albert Museum, London

McQueen collaborated with fellow creatives  such as milliner Phillip Treacy and the jeweller Shaun Leane, as well as essential craftsmen such as tanners, wood carvers,  prosthetics makers, glass specialists, plumassiers and embroiderers.

All professions, I think that are overlooked and understated.

I think the beauty of this exhibition is the sheer volume of exposure these professional craftsmen and women will have and the mutual appreciation of their craft and creativity they will receive. Especially, as they have the ability to recreate McQueen’s vision on the catwalk.

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Afterthought

After watching footage   of McQueen,  I realised that he was a down-to-earth guy whom you could relate to and get along with. He was inspired not only by current fashion but from classical painting, contemporary art, club culture, folk tales and cinema.

To reemphasize, McQueen was not in a ‘fashion bubble,’ he was very much aware of current affairs. Horn of Plenty A/W 2009 was a comment on the recession, recycling and excess in fashion. Plato’s Atlantis handles the topic of global warming, reliance on technology and the potential vision of Future Fashion.

Yet McQueen was incredibly shy and introverted. He hardly took any TV interviews or was photographed backstage. If you watched interviews with the likes of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Sarah Burton who have worked with him, they will mention that he is so introverted and he would not attend his own exhibition at the V&A! He will be working on the next project.

He was ambitious,  east end boy, wanting to learn more, hard working.  He is so likeable and I thnk we lost a down to earth character much needed in the fashion industry.

In summary,  I highly recommend this exhibition to anyone, especially those who have an open mind and no direct interest  in Fashion or McQueen.  It was a great experience all in all and I was inspired.

Who is this Exhibition for? Everyone! Especially those who are:
- Day Dreamers
- Shoe fixationists
- Fashion enthusiasts
- Stylists
- Fashion designers
- Fans of McQueen
- Design and Fashion students
- Interested in Design, Prop making, and Architecture

 What are  your experiences going to see the exhibition?

Did you learn a lot about McQueen?

Please comment or message me, I love hearing what your thoughts are.

I hope you all enjoyed reading this!



Ticket Information

Admissions: £16 (concessions available). V&A Members go free.

Advance booking is advised – this can be done in person at the V&A; online at www.vam.ac.uk/savagebeauty; or by calling 0800 912 6961 (booking fee applies)


For further information, please click here to go to the Official V&A Savage Beauty website.

ALEXANDER MCQUEEN: SAVAGE BEAUTY,  IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SWAROVSKI, SUPPORTED BY AMERICAN EXPRESS, WITH THANKS TO M∙A∙C COSMETICS, TECHNOLOGY PARTNER SAMSUNG AND MADE POSSIBLE WITH THE CO-OPERATION OF ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, RUNS FROM 14 MARCH – 2 AUGUST 2015.  WWW.VAM.AC.UK/SAVAGEBEAUTY

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