Today, I’m writing a blog post from London! I’ve been here for almost two weeks as I really needed a change of scenery and a break from the balmy, blistering heat! I’ve always adored London (and any city that has an energetic buzz! As you might gather, I’m not much of a nature oriented kinda girl!) Except maybe the beach or Hyde Park …
Whenever I come here, I always try to fit in a few exhibitions and this time around I was really dying to check out Alexander McQueen’s “Savage Beauty” exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
This is the first and largest retrospective of the late designer’s work to be presented in Europe. Savage Beauty showcases McQueen’s visionary body of work in great detail, spanning from his earlier works from his 1992 MA graduate collection to his unfinished A/W 2010 collection. McQueen’s designs are presented with the dramatic staging and sense of spectacle synonymous with his runway shows.
I was truly spellbound and awestruck as I walked through the exhibition and really had a newfound sense of appreciation for his pieces by the end of the day. The attention to detail was incredible. What really fascinated me what the way in which his mind worked and how he would deliberately highlight dark, ordinary or melancholy subjects and give them a fresh sense of perspective and new lease of life. He almost forces the viewer to look at it again, but this time, through HIS eyes and highlights the unconventional beauty within.
Many of his ensembles were quite gothic but bewitching, with entire pieces being “swallowed” or enveloped in elaborate black ostrich feathers, giving the appearance of it being seamless with a macabre, Edgar Alan Poe touch.
Each room in the exhibition had different moods and tones. Some centered around beautiful, delicate florals – romantic but in a bittersweet way (like the use of both fake AND real, deliberately perishable fresh flowers in one dress, reminding us of life’s beauty yet fragility)
Other rooms honored his Scottish heritage, showcasing his innovative pieces which featured tartan and tweeds.
I really loved his revolutionary cuts and exceptional skills in tailoring, which you could see and appreciate up close. What’s astounding to me was how he mixed the most amazing unusual textures together like iridescent clamshells , barnacles, metal mesh and painted goosefeathers all blending seamlessly into sculptural works of art!
His exoticism was wide-ranging. Africa, China, India and Turkey were all places that sparked his imagination and this is apparent while walking through the rooms. Japan was particularly significant, as the kimono, especially, was a garment that the designer endlessly reconfigured in his collections.
The exhibition’s Cabinet of Curiosities, focused on atavistic and fetishistic paraphernalia produced by McQueen in collaboration with a number of accessory designers, including the milliner Philip Treacy and the jeweler Shaun Leane. The Cabinet also includes show pieces, one-off creations made for the catwalk but not intended for production.
The last room – Plato’s Atlantis was truly spectacular. It was the last fully realized collection the designer presented before his death in February 2010. Inspired by Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, it presented a narrative that centered on the devolution of humankind. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say the collection had a futuristic, galactic vibe to the collection!
Savage Beauty runs from 14th March to the 2nd of August, so for anyone visiting London during the summer, this phenomenal exhibition is an absolute must-see!