The Beauty and Madness of Alexander McQueen in Savage Beauty

As many of you may already know for the posts I’ve written, I am a big fan of the arts. Whether it be art, music, fashion, theater – the creativity involved within all of these respective fields is fascinating. I very much admire those who use their inspirations to create such beautiful pieces of clothing or songs or stories that can relate to the masses.

In a belated attempt to pay tribute to designer Alexander McQueen, I was fortunate to catch the Savage Beauty exhibit last summer at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art shortly before it ended. Hosted by the Costume Institute, it was their most successful exhibition ever, in addition to being in the top ten Met exhibits ever.

While I expected to see many dark, obscure pieces that many of us know to associate with his work, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the softer side of McQueen. Don’t misunderstand, there were definitely colors, fabrics and designs that were ominous, quirky, haunting and completely expected. (Every mannequin wore lace fabric over their faces!) However, there were unexpected designs in the later part of the exhibit that were extremely feminine and absolutely stunning. There were two designs specifically that blew me away, one of them being below:

[Dress, Sarabande, S/S 2007]

This was a gorgeous white lace dress with a peplum – type sleeve. It is cream silk satin and organza appliquéd with black degrade silk lace and embroidered in clear beads and sequins.* As you go from top to bottom, the colored lace on the dress goes from beige to brown to black. The elegance of this gown as well as the McQueen touch is what I loved so much about it.

Another gorgeous piece that spoke to me was the tulle dress with the gold feathered jacket (third mannequin in.) The jacket is made of gold painted animal feathers and sits so casually, yet makes such a bold statement.

What amazed me most from Savage Beauty was that you can see the methodology behind the madness of it all. He was extremely intelligent. You could see through his designs the depth and history that were associated with each collection. For example, while he was born in Scotland but lived in England, he portrayed the clash of cultures that defined him in the beautiful Autumn/Winter 2006-07 and A/W 2008-09 collections. In addition, his creativity was further pushed to the limits with the pictures below, which display some of his earlier works with use of feathers, razors, medical slides and paint.







[Dresses: VOSS, S/S 2001]

While I only really began to study and appreciate his work after his passing, it is evident that he was way ahead of his time for fashion.
Said by the man himself: “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.”

In my opinion, McQueen to fashion is like Tim Burton is to film. They both create work that is complex, somewhat masochistic, yet extremely colorful and fulfilling.

The fashion world & McQueen’s loyal fans miss him terribly. Sarah Burton (new creative director) has helped keep his legacy going with beautiful pieces while maintaining the integrity of McQueen himself (not to mention the wedding gown of Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton!)

*Visit the Savage Beauty site to view more details/images of the gowns

[Images taken at Savage Beauty exhibit – all designs by Lee Alexander McQueen.]

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