Monday, 8 August 2011

Alexander McQueen's exhibition makes history

Telegraph - Monday 8th August

The McQueen retrospective, which opened its doors on May 4th and became the Met's biggest ever opening day, has seen legions of the late designer's fans make the pilgrimage to see the icon's most directional, influential pieces. The exhibit, which closed yesterday, after being extended for a week to keep up with demand, has become the eigth most visited exhibition in The Met’s 141-year history.

Savage Beauty' was a monumental and challenging title for a body of work from a designer whose approach was described as radical, perverse, disturbing, profound - yet somehow beautiful.

"I'm a romantic schizophrenic," McQueen once described himself - and the remark appears as an introduction to the exhibition which is displayed, not chronologically, as might be expected, but in a series of galleries which explore his interest in, or some might say obsession, with death, sex, nature - at its most raw - history, love, religion and, of course, romance, throughout his 19-year career.

"I think the title 'Savage Beauty' very much epitomises the contrasting opposites in McQueen's work," Andrew Bolton, the curator of the exhibit, says in his audio tour of the displays. "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.

From his Central Saint Martins postgraduate collection in 1992, called 'Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims' (first bought in its entirety by the late Isabella Blow and, on her death, acquired by Daphne Guinness), through to his work with Givenchy, and to his last fully-realised collection, 'Plato's Atlantis', spring/summer 2010, the exhibition was an absorbing, astounding walk through the extraordinary convolutions of his mind, and the technical virtuosity he could summon up in order to turn his ideas and thoughts into reality.

'Dante', 'Banshee', 'Highland Rape', 'The Widows of Culloden', 'Horn of Plenty' - pieces from all those collections which were staged and presented as performance art and techno-theatre, first in London, then in New York, then Paris. A 40ft oak tree, representing McQueen's relationship with the forces of nature, stands in the foyer of the Met, recalling another collection, 'The Girl Who Lived in The Tree'; a theme which has been carried through in the use of heather and boxwood hedging, by Raul Avila, with Gainsbury and Bennett.
One area of the exhibition was devoted to the bizarre and challenging accessories for McQueen's collections by artists such as Shaun Leane, Sarah Harmarnee, Erik Halley, Philip Treacy and Dai Rees, wrought in every substance from metal and plastic to woodcock wings, rubber, copper and quills. Another glass case encloses the hologram of Kate Moss, realised by Baillie Walsh for the autumn/winter 2006 collection.

Fashion editors have described being so overwhelmed at many of McQueen's shows that they were brought to tears. Now anyone visiting New York can see for themselves, up close, the magical designs and the exquisite craftsmanship that elevated McQueen from fashion designer to artist.

Following the overwhelming success of this phenomenal exhibition there is now a call for it to become a travelling exhibition, afterall he was a British designer so surely us Brits should get a chance to admire one of the most iconic designers in British history on our own doorstep?

Check out some of the pieces that were on display by clicking on this link & lets hope & pray it comes to the UK soon. 

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