Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Savage Beauty photo diary

It's no secret that London is the home to some fantastic history and culture. There are a wide selection of museums and galleries, mostly for free to visit but there are often certain events that you need to pay for which are truly unmissable, Paul Klee's exhibition at the Tate Modern for example which I saw a while ago and more recently (and the reason for this post), the Savage Beauty Exhibition at the V&A. After a substantial breakfast and a quick mocha to wake me up and fuel me for the day and a spot of shopping, we hopped in a cab and headed to the V&A for the much anticipated Savage Beauty Exhibition. The exhibition was a huge success at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where it started and has since been expanded and adapted to make more references to London - the birth place and home town of McQueen, where he worked and the inspiration to many, if not subconsciously all, of his collections. As the largest collection in history of pieces by Lee Alexander McQueen in the UK, it was clear that this exhibition wasn't going to be like any other and I wasn't wrong. This isn't an exhibition, it feels like a world that swallows you up and it completely leaves you stood still in awe of all the creations surrounding you. The craftsmanship (from his years at Saville Row) and the imagination and creativity behind each and every design completely motivated and inspired me. McQueen said "London is where I was brought up. It's where my heart is and where I get my inspiration" and those are the words we are greeted with on our first look into the exhibition. 

In the first room, Savage Mind, the room dedicated to his immaculate tailoring, the words "That's what I'm here for, to demolish the rules but keep the tradition" are written on the stalk grey wall.

From ready to wear to sculptural art for the body made from the most unusual materials, such as mussel shells, plywood and even mini crocodile heads. The first room welcomed his beautifully crafted graduate collection from Central Saint Martin's entitled "Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims", which impressed me beyond belief. Firstly, because this is the collection which kick started his unbelievable but unfortunately short lived career. I have watched videos of his graduate collection multiple times but seeing something in person that you've seen so many times online is incredible, especially when it's made so well. Makes me wonder what my graduate collection will be like and how it will compare to the likes of the marvellous McQueen's. 

The Romantic Gothic room 

In the first room, the clothes were beautiful but there was a clear, underlying unpleasant and creepy theme running through the collection, in this case it was the Jack the Ripper back story inspiring the collection. The disturbing themes shone through the garments more and more when moving your way through the exhibition, getting darker and more obviously repulsive but in a beautiful way which you can't help but look at. It's clear that Alexander McQueen wanted to redefine "fashion" and make people question it. McQueen stated that he wants "people to be afraid of the women I dress", which becomes clearer when moving around the various exhibition spaces. 

There was a brief explanation for every particular theme of each room. It was a great way to combine the pieces to McQueen's thoughts behind them. I just wish they were a little more detailed perhaps explaining his design process in more detail or how it related and communicated to the world around us. I personally know a lot about McQueen but for others at the exhibition that perhaps didn't know much about his background, it was quite vague about his history and how certain events effected him and thus, his designs. I bought myself the book, because I wanted to know these things in further detail but that will cost you an extra £25! 

I know that this exhibition was no photos allowed (and I was a little sneaky, but I do truly believe that there shouldn't be the cost or geographical barrier that there is for this show. Ps. Sorry for bad quality) but I do think that for other reasons, like being able to see the details and hard work put into these pieces, the lighting could have been better - if not on the garments, at least on the labels because with the amount of people there and the shadows created, it was basically impossible to read which collection the pieces were from and what season said collection was from. 

The Romantic Nationalism room

My favourite room, included 4 walls, double height, full to the brim of Alexander McQueen goodies, from accessories to videos to garments from any and all of the collections. This room was called 'A Cabinet of Curiosities'. I could have spent another 24 hours in this room. There was almost too much to take is and made my heart skip a beat when I entered it. I knew that I wouldn't be able to appreciate it all in such a small amount of time. I do wish that they hadn't filled it to the ceilings though, so you could actually see the looks at the top in more detail but just being in that room filled with incredible designs made me so inspired. I wish I could have been at the initial shows to see the reactions, which aren't felt here, because of the controversial themes of the collections. 

The beautiful moving exhibit of Kate Moss's Pepper's Ghost hologram from McQueen's 'Widows of Culloden' show (which was apparently much larger than the same exhibit at the Met!)

The Romantic Surrealism room (exploring the "mechanics of nature", from flowers to feathers to animals.)

A few things about the exhibition that I will not forget:

1) Seeing the infamous spray-painted dress worn by Shalom Harlow in the finale of the S/S 1999 collection in the flesh! I can't even count the amount of times I've seen footage from that show but seeing it tête-à-tête was surreal. 

2) The Romantic Exoticism room, where the fabulous mirrored box which was home to a few pieces from the S/S01 Voss show. It was complete with the original lights which turned the music box from clear glass (so the audience could appreciate the detail of the pieces within) to opaque (so the audience was looking back at themselves). Alexander McQueen explained that "it was about trying to trap something that wasn't conventionally beautiful to show that beauty comes from within." 

3) Seeing the amazing Armadillo shoes, and the collection, from his Plato's Atlantis collection.

4) The fact that McQueen designed from the side! I never knew that and now, having gained that knowledge, it may be something that I try to do in future because the side is the body's worst angle and so this ensured that all his garments worked and flattered the entire body, from any angle. The garments smooth over and lumps and bumps of the natural body and sculpt it into a piece of art within itself. Great work. 

One thing is clear, his work is art just as much as it is fashion; progressing it even further to make the wearer's body a piece of art too. Many people say that saying McQueen is your favourite designer is a cliché but it is so obvious why people have said that in the past. He truly was one of the world's most extraordinary and innovative designers in recent history. 

Don't miss this exhibition if you can possibly help it, it really is worth seeing. It's at the V&A until the 2nd August. 

R.I.P. Lee Alexander McQueen


  1. Replies
    1. I love McQueen too ! Thank you for reading ! X

  2. OH my god, this exhibition is SO stunning I need to go :/ xx

    dresses-and-travels //@susandollparts

    1. You should definitely check it out if you have the time! So worth the money! An unforgettable experience that you'll probably never be able to experience again! Xx

  3. This exhibition looks so cool!