Friday 6 May 2011

it’s a McQueen world

McQueen continues to be celebrated ~ the MET’s Savage Beauty exhibition and gala opening, Daphne Guinness dresses in Barneys’ Madison Ave window, and oh, THAT Royal wedding dress.

McQueen’s legacy is his artistry ~ fashion is art, and that clothes can be layered in meaning and beauty.

I hope the extraordinary Alexander McQueen is relishing all the love in spirit…

Alexander McQueen

Savage Beauty

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since the death of Alexander McQueen. The extraordinary designer hanged himself on the eve of his mother’s funeral. He was just 40 years old. McQueen had been battling depression, but few expected such a drastic turn from the young designer who was at the height of his very successful career.

    mcqueen at the met

    “I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists. I have to force people to look at things.”

    This week the Metropolitan Museum of Art mounted a retrospective of McQueen’s designs that span from his student work of the early 1990s to his last days. The exhibition celebrates the late Alexander McQueen’s extraordinary talent, featuring many of the designer’s iconic designs drawn from the Alexander McQueen Archives in London and Paris as well as private collections.

    The Costume Institute’s ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is insanely beautiful, intensely dramatic, and — most importantly — profoundly moving.  Spanning from McQueen’s Central Saint Martins graduation collection to his posthumous autumn/winter 2010-11 show, the exhibit celebrates an extraordinary and prolific career cut tragically short. feature many of the designer’s iconic designs drawn from the Alexander McQueen Archives in London and Paris as well as private collections.feature many of the designer’s iconic designs drawn from the Alexander McQueen Archives in London and Paris as well as private collections. Julia Rubin, Styleite

    Take a walk through the exhibition with curator Andrew Bolton.

    Vogue included six looks from the exhibition, all captured by legendary photographer Steven Meisel. The fantastic shots{some are below}, feature models who were friends of the designer, including Coco Rocha, Karen Elson, Stella Tennant, Karlie Kloss, Caroline Trentini, and Raquel Zimmerman.

    Mr. McQueen challenged and expanded the understanding of fashion beyond utility to a conceptual expression of culture, politics, and identity. His iconic designs constitute the work of an artist whose medium of expression was fashion. Approximately one hundred examples will be on view, including signature designs such as the bumster trouser, the kimono jacket, and the Origami frock coat, as well as pieces reflecting the exaggerated silhouettes of the 1860s, 1880s, 1890s, and 1950s that he crafted into contemporary silhouettes transmitting romantic narratives. Technical ingenuity imbued his designs with an innovative sensibility that kept him at fashion’s vanguard. The Met

    After reading the review by Julia Rubin, styleite re-posted below, I really want to jump on a plane to New York!

    McQueen’s work gave us insight into a creative mind consumed by passion, beauty, darkness, and drama. While viewing clothes in fashion editorials and runway videos is often the way we experience his (and all) collections, it goes without saying that nothing compares to seeing the pieces in person. And for all the excitement of his runway shows, it is only through an exhibition such as this one that the clothing can be fully analyzed and absorbed. There is nothing quite like being greeted by two magnificent creations from the VOSSspring/summer 2001 collection, and actually seeing a dress made out of ostrich feathers and glass medical slides alongside one made of razor-shell clams. In photos, they impress; in person, they mesmerize.

    For the most part, the exhibit’s curation veers away from gimmicky built environments, allowing McQueen’s exquisite craftsmanship to steal the show. The galleries are organized thematically, but there is a nice sense of chronology, with the first gallery including pieces from his graduation collection (Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims, 1992) and the last featuring a row of mannequins modeling looks from the final collection he bowed (Plato’s Atlantis, spring/summer 2010).

    One gallery is devoted almost entirely to the hats, shoes, jewelry, and bodypieces that McQueen both produced and commissioned to complement his clothes; Philip Treacy’s headwear and Shaun Leane’s metalworks are obvious standouts. Another gallery is narrow and mirrored with mannequins on revolving platforms, while yet another focuses on his “romantic nationalism” by showcasing his Scottish-themed collections (including autumn/winter 1995-96’s Highland Rape). There are pieces from his time at Givenchy, as well as a miniature version of the Kate Moss hologram from his autumn/winter 2006-07 Widows of Culloden show.

    The soundtrack — largely orchestral with dramatic show music mixed in — only adds to the haunting nature of the work in question. Videos made for various runway shows are sprinkled throughout, and quotes from McQueen are posted alongside the gallery identifications.

    Dress, Widows of Culloden, autumn/winter 2006–7

    “When we put the antlers on the model and then draped over it the lace embroidery that we had made, we had to poke them through a £2,000 piece of work. But then it worked because it looks like she’s rammed the piece of lace with her antlers. There’s always spontaneity. You’ve got to allow for that in my shows.” Lee Alexander McQueen

    Sarah Burton Talks McQueen

    Designer of the moment, Sarah Burton spoke to Vogue about the vision behind McQueen’s most iconic collections. It’s a candid look at what it was like to work with someone as creative as McQueen, someone for whom dip-dying medical slides and sourcing horsetails from the Queen is not an unreasonable idea. But it was equally fascinating to hear that Burton’s own wedding dress was once a source of inspiration for the late designer.

    Of McQueen’s “Widows of Culloden” collection (above), Burton told Mower:

    “The collection was about the 1745 massacre of the Scottish Jacobites by the English, which Lee felt so passionately about because of his Scottish family heritage, which his mother had researched. The women were the widows of the slaughtered army. This dress was actually based on my wedding dress—I got married two years earlier. We had to figure out how to make lace work in the round with those ruffles because Lee hated gathering. So we cut out all of the flowers from the lace and reappliquéd it on tulle to make our own fabric. This is the collection most people remember as the one with Kate Moss in a hologram. Oh, my God, it was so beautiful. He loved that show.”         Sarah Burton Reminisces About Alexander McQueen for Vogue via styleite

    “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” is on view until July 31 at the Met. For more, The Met has a great blog.

    {Images via The Backseat StylersOlivia’s Obsession. Note: mannequin photos by Sølve Sundsbø, who shot ensembles from the McQueen archive on live models, then retouched the images to make them look like mannequins}


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