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My Trip through Alexander McQueen's SAVAGE BEAUTY

The Loss of a Creative Genius Weighs Heavy.  Still.

It is often that we don't fully recognize someone's talent until they are gone.   We might get glimpses of it,  but we don't look at the full picture or understand and recognize the full scope of  the work that they do.   Maybe within the boundaries of their trade their peers can recognize the magnitude of the talent. But Fashion is not only for the people who work in fashion. It is for us, the every day people who simply love fashion, and beauty– whether we can only afford to shop at Target or select boutiques.  We dream to be something else, to be somewhere else, and be transported into our fantasy adorned with the art of a genious.  And Alexander McQueen, did just that.

I have always loved Alexander McQueen, because he was the gothic, punk, renaissance designer that fed my love of all things with skulls, bone, texture and drama.   But did I know about his history?  Did I know about his education?  Did I know about every single line that he made, and the theatrical fashion shows that he created?  No, I did not.

I certainly never went to these shows, because I'm not in the business.  Any you have to be "somebody" or have some ties to be invited. 

Oh that I could have. But, as I said, it is only until such a great artist passes away– dramatically right in the peak of life– that the rest of the world has a glimpse into the soul and the genius of this life.

"As you enter the exhibition, you’re faced with two mannequins—the two mannequins that I think represent many of the themes and ideas that McQueen revisited throughout his career: polarized opposites, whether it’s to do with life or death, lightness or darkness, predator/prey, man/machine. - Andrew Bolton"

I finally got that chance, last Friday.   My mother-in-law was visiting from Denver, and as usual she had more information on what was going on in my neighborhood than I.   Although I knew I wanted to go see the Alexander McQueen show I could not figure out when!   Having her in town made it a priority.   I canceled my morning pilates, we got up, dropped off the kids at school, and quickly stopped at Mile End for breakfast, all before we jumped the train to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I recommend getting there right when the museum opens, at 10:00am.  We were there by 10:30, and there was no line!   On our exit, however– an hour and half later– there was a very long line!

I'm not sure I can describe the amazing impact this exhibit had on me.  The curator of this exhibit held to the challenge of a McQueen show.   It fit like a hand in a glove, just as the mannequins fit into their very own leather headgear–  All of which worked magically, connecting them to the art on their body.  

Each room worked together following the stories between each period of his work.   Working it's way from, impeccably tailored and complex suits to the more theatrical gowns that told stories of shipwrecks, and ravaging wars, to a future involving Darwin's theory of evolution.   McQueen was an amazing craftsman. He was able to use the skills of his craft, from his days as a tailor in in Savile Row, but also to use fashion as a vehicle to express his very complex ideas and concepts.

"The second room, “Highland Rape,” is comprised of raw wood. Highland Rape was very provocative when it first was shown in 1995; many people interpreted the rape as being the rape of women. McQueen was very adamant in the fact that the rape in the title referred to the rape of Scotland through the Jacobite Risings of the eighteenth century and the Highland Clearances of the nineteenth century."- Andrew Bolton

Top Middle: Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims (1992), three-point “origami” frockcoat.

Bottom and Bottom right: The “Cabinet of Curiosities”.

I'm not sure you can get the full picture unless you rent the audio tapes.   I bought the book after, and even the book doesn't give the antidotes and history you get on those tapes.   So I insist!  You MUST RENT THE AUDIO TAPES!!

I don't want to give you a full review or story of the exhibit, you can get that [].   But I will say, I can't think of another exhibit that impressed me so much.   Andrew Bolton, the curator behind it, did an amazing job staying true to AM, and showing us his magnificent art.

My favorite pieces have the most imaginative stories like in the Romantic Primitivism room: shipwreck at sea:

and the inspired It’s Only a Game, from his spring/summer 2005 show, which was staged as a chess game inspired by a scene in the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which pitched the East (Japan) against the West (America).

and as before mentioned, Plato’s Atlantis from the spring/summer 2010 collection. "The last fully realized collection the designer presented before his death in February 2010. Inspired by Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859), it presented a narrative that centered not on the evolution of humankind but on its devolution."

A note on the book.   The mannequins in the book, are different than that in the show.  At first, I thought I didn't like them so much. Something looked off.   Not quite right.  But then when I was reading through it, I learned the reason why I  felt a bit uncomfortable with them was because they were NOT mannequins!  They were models, painted with latex paint of some kind, with rubber bands around their joints, and put in awkward positions to emulate mannequins.  Later their heads were photoshopped off! 

 Now looking back throughout the book… well, let's just say:  I'm impressed.