McQueen is king at Met’s extended Savage Beauty retrospective
NEW YORK (ACNI) – Alexander McQueen (British, 1969-2010) has always been a true inspiration to me, but I never knew the extent of his talents or the stories behind each of his collections until I saw Savage Beauty, an exhibition currently on at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It’s a must-see for all fashionistas and design aficionados.
Not only did this complelling exhibition change the way I look at fashion, it made me more confident as a person to express myself, through fashion and in other ways. Learning about such a rare individual through his life’s work was an experience to remember.
Savage Beauty opened to the public on May 4th and has attracted more than 450,000 visitors to date, according to a press release distributed by the Met. Its has been so popular that the Met has extended the exhibit to August 7th and also extended its viewing hours for the final four days of showing. To insure minimal lines and a shorter waiting time, I suggest buying your tickets online through the museum’s website (www.metmuseum.org) and visiting the museum on weekdays or early mornings. By midday you will see lines that could very well take you hours to get through! Well worth it, of course, but not recommended for the anxious type.
“Met Monday” is available for those who would like to have a more intimate and less-crowded viewing of the exhibit, as the Met is closed to the public on Mondays. The tickets for Met Monday will cost you $50, but they’re well worth it for a stress-free, non-rushed visit.
I went to the exhibit on a Saturday morning around 11. There was already a two-hour wait. Once inside, I pushed through the crowd as politely as possible to get a good view of each McQueen design, like all the other pushers who wanted to get their own close-up view.
The exhibition consists of six different collections from Alexander McQueen, all relating to the theme of Romanticism. Each room is carefully designed to take you on a visual journey of these collections and the intentions and history behind each romantic theme. The space felt like a giant dream closet decked out with flat screen TVs, projectors, low lighting and rotating mannequins, all with corresponding music to convey a particular mood. Some of the most fantastic designs I have ever seen lined the walls from floor to ceiling, along with some out-of-this-world hats, earrings, necklaces and shoes. You could literally see McQueen’s passions and inspirations oozing from each mannequin.
I was pleased to see a few of my favorite pieces included in the show and was thrilled to leave with a ton of new favorites locked in my memory. Among those that I particularly liked was McQueen’s “Jellyfish” Ensemble. This piece is unique and so visually stimulating. The head-to-toe iridescent enamel paillettes will stop you in your tracks. Paired with McQueen’s “armadillo” boots embroidered with the same material, it’s a knockout. What I love about this dress and so many others in his various collections is the accentuation of the female figure. This dress, in particular, was designed to emphasize the hips and legs, giving it the look of a jellyfish.
“I want to be the purveyor of a certain silhouette or a way of cutting, so that when I’m dead and gone people will know that the twenty-first century was started by Alexander McQueen.” -Alexander McQueen
It is clear that McQueen was consistently inspired by the human form and used the power of fashion to create his own altered forms. As an artist myself, I can appreciate his work and the craft that goes into each distinctive, original piece.
“Spine” Corset was another incredible work of art on view. Initially, I thought this corset was inspired by the Swiss surrealist painter and sculptor H.R. Giger, but after reading a statement by Shaun Leane, a jewelry designer who often collaborated with McQueen, I learned that this piece was a result of McQueen’s fascination with the spine and his desire to show the bone structure on the outside.
Whether you live in or are just visiting New York City, you must not miss this exhibition of original designs by Britain’s unconventional genius of modern couture, who called himself “the Edgar Allan Poe of fashion.” You will leave feeling inspired and grateful for the exposure of such an amazing artist. To get a man’s opinion, I asked Philip Moy, who works in post production for a fashion photography production company in New York City, what he thought of the exhibition. He said: “[It] had a haunting beauty about it. I had goosebumps the entire time.”
Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty is made possible by Alexander McQueen™ in partnership with American Express and Condé Nast. The exhibition is in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall on the second floor of the museum. The last day of the exhibition is Aug. 7, 2011.
For hours, admission prices, directions, to buy tickets online, and for extensive information about the Alexander McQueen exhibition, including a video, go to www.metmuseum.org.
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