Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Two Hours with Alexander...

... McQueen, that is.

I posted a To-Do list a few weeks back for my recent trip to New York. The first item on the list was to see the Alexander McQueen "Savage Beauty" exhibition at the Met. Well... I came, I saw, and I absolutely loved it.

As I climbed my way up the Met steps, camera in hand, I couldn't wait to get inside and see all of his brilliant pieces from over the years. Once inside, I paid for admission (students are recommended to pay half-price, but may choose to pay whatever they please) and made my way to the gallery on the second floor. I could tell it was more popular than I expected because every tour guide didn't even need to hear your question; they knew you wanted to see McQueen.

After being carefully guided into a line of around 200 people, I silently waited my turn to enter the exhibit. Twenty-five minutes and two phone calls later later, I was allowed in. Sadly, my camera was not.

The first room was slightly daunting with it's pitch black walls, faint music playing eerily in the background and noticeable difference in temperature. Not to mention, the first dress was crafted from microscope slides dyed blood red. As I made my way through the crowds of people attempting to get up-close-and-personal with the garments, I was (dare I say it) a little creeped out. I overcame that feeling once I read a quote from McQueen that had been painted on the back wall. It read, "You've got to know the rules to break them... That's what I'm here for - to demolish the rules but keep the tradition." This made me smile.

The following room was much less dark and featured a variety of structured jackets and tailored pants he designed for his collections. I really appreciated how close I could get to the clothing in this room. I was stunned by how perfectly made everything was. It all seemed to be draped at the perfect angle, darted in the perfect spots. With this, I slowly began to realize that the thing things I was looking at weren't just clothes; they were art.

The next rooms featured many of McQueen's extravagant dresses that were the true show-stoppers in each of his shows. A dress and dramatic neckpiece covered in gold feathers caught my eye. I'd put it in a fall Look Book I made for the Troc sometime back and had gazed at it through my computer screen for upwards of ten minutes. And there it was, in all its beauty right in front of me. Needless to say, it was stunning.

My favorite was the fifth room, dedicated entirely to the accessories featured in runway shows. Being around them every day at the shop, I was in my element. Masked mannequins were adorned with headpieces, earrings, backplates and shoes that I couldn't even dream existed. It's amazing how each one was so carefully constructed down to the very last inch. And they were only accessories...
After that came many smaller rooms and hallways each styled in compliance with the pieces on display. One room for a collection titled Nihilism, full of dresses adorned with mud and locusts designed around primitivism became a hallway for McQueen's Highland Rape collection, inspired by his Scottish heritage. Here, I realized the breadth of inspiration McQueen used for his collections. His main mantra was romanticism, but the influences expanded much further. It was truly something to be admired. His ability to design incredible pieces of work that could be created from such differing muses was, and still is, truly unmatched.

The last few hallways were pieces of work themselves as I walked along broken floorboards and psychedelic video images played on stark white walls. Said videos were the backdrop for the last room featuring McQueen's final collection, Plato's Atlantis, before his untimely passing in 2010. The alien-like mannequins stood atop Armadillo heels made famous by Lady Gaga and were styled in short structured dresses with aquatic patterns. The collection resulted from McQueen's perception of a future in which our ice caps eventually melt and humans then become aquatic creatures. Ideas like this are what I found most interesting. His mind clearly had no limits and his clothing shows it.

I digress, the Savage Beauty exhibition at the Met was an experience for the books. After having seen it, I can barely put my opinions into words. This is my best shot.

All photos from

1 comment:

Miss Cake ARt & DEsign said...

My first time going into the McQueen store this weekend in the Meat Packing District, more like museum though. No cameras allowed, but I was into a skull ring that must have weighed like 5 lbs! Agreed, beautiful tailoring and workmanship!