Savage Beauty, Alexander MacQueen Exhibition

Savage Beauty

The Alexander MacQueen exhibition

The Victoria and Albert Museum currently have a temporary exhibition (it finishes on August 2nd) of the work of fashion designer Alexander MacQueen. I had seen some glowing reviews of the exhibition and noting that I would be in London while it was on, I preordered a ticket online weeks ago. Even then I could only get a late afternoon slot, (3.30pm, all the earlier slots were sold out!)

There was a very strict ‘no photos’ policy, with signs and the attendants reminding the visitors as they scanned their tickets. Not being able to physically take photos was frustrating as the outfits were all amazing, it was left to the audience to take photos with their minds and just really appreciate what they were seeing.

The only photo I did take, the outside of the Victoria and Albert (known as the V & A) museum.

I’m not a great fashionista, but recognise that MacQueen’s creations were amazing and creative which is why I wanted to see them. Actually seeing the items in real life, it brought home to me that what he created wasn’t just fashion but works of art. They weren’t dresses, coats, jackets etc. but theatrical creations; the items were pieces of theatre in themselves.

MacQueen had certain themes you could see, many of his collections had creations using feathers, he was fascinated with ornithology. He was inspired by the exoticism of Africa, China, India, Turkey and particularly Japan. (I took notes!) The collection and show called “It’s only a Game” he staged as a chess game inspired by a scene from the film “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. The outfits had American football style helmets and shoulder pads, with Japanese inspired sashes and bows.

The “Widows of Culloden” collection he used the MacQueen tartan (red and black that even I recognised from some of his clothing line), his inspiration for that collection was the Battle of Culloden in 1745.

One room was assembled as the “Cabinet of Curiosities”, it had a high ceiling, all 4 walls had black cabinets and inside these cabinets were either static mannequins wearing MacQueen dresses or revolving mannequins, or video screens showing past fashion parades. (I think to call what MacQueen put on a ‘fashion show’ is something of a misnomer as they were full on theatrical performances, I wish I had been able to see one.) There was just so much to look at in this room.

The exhibition was fantastic, I came away in awe of Alexander MacQueen’s creativity and imagination, the outfits were just stunning. An exhibition well worth seeing.