Good evening my fashionable friends,
This past weekend I was lucky enough to have attended the Alexander McQueen “Savage Beauty” exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. I had been eagerly anticipating the day when I could finally delve into the mind of this fashion great and I can safely say I was blown away by the show.
Much like the notoriety of the above skull emblem which is emblazoned on anything from scarves, to bags, to shoes, anyone I have ever asked ” Who is Alexander McQueen” will have at the very least, heard of the designer. He was known for breaking fashion norms, shattering boundaries and when the season was calling out for structured, tailored collections, he would be the only designer who would be de-constructing wool Blazers or slashing fitted trousers from the hem to the knee in an act of fashion rebellion which was equally adored and stubbornly tolerated.
What I loved about his shows was the attention to detail on every piece. The dress above was painstakingly hand sewn using the finest silk material and when worn, skimmed the contours of the body flattering every curve and looking utterly breath taking from every angle.
Each collection had a completely varied theme. The collection above was inspired by his love of wildlife – in particular birds. The “swan dress” on the left side was adorned with hundreds of thousands of individual feathers dyed to resemble a black swan. Even the shoes were completely made of feathers to match the dress perfectly. Mcqueen when asked about this collection revealed that his love of birds stemmed back to his own personal desire of wanting to feel “free” and not restricted in his creativity.
Alexander came from very humble beginnings. His father was a taxi driver and they lived in the East End of London where he claims even walking down the street each day, there were endless inspirations for him. When he first started designing clothes, he used his benefits money to buy the cheapest fabrics he could find at his local haberdashery shop. This is a far cry from the beautiful dresses he was able to produce shown above. I personally feel because he started from the bottom, honing his craft with only a small allowance and heaps of enthusiasm, when he was finally able to use the best materials, this was one of the reasons why he poured so many hours of hard work into every piece he created. It was as though he felt the clothes deserved 100% of his soul to show his appreciation for how successful a designer he had become.
His last ever collection before he sadly took his own life, was known as the Aquiline collection. His inspiration was from the ocean, so he used fabrics in a variety of sea blues and greens, pairing the dresses with his infamous armadillo shoes (which shot even more into the limelight when Lady Gaga wore a pair in one of her music videos.) When interviewed about this collection in 2010, Alexander claimed he felt as though he had finally purged all of the ideas from his imagination and they had been captured perfectly in this show. He had completed all that he had set out on his fashion journey to achieve.
This honestly was one of the highlights so far in my fashion life to have got a small glimpse into the wonderful world of this incredible man. I found the exhibition deeply haunting, slightly sadistic but most of all I felt disappointed and upset that we no longer have Alexander with us on this earth. He truly was a fashion genius, constantly striving to stand out from the shadows but never compromising his own beliefs or sources of inspiration.
One consolation is however, that although the man is no longer with us we still have his ethereal archived collections on display in museums to hopefully inspire the next generation of budding designers to follow their dreams no matter their background or social status. Alexander was the epitome of a ordinary individual who achieved extraordinary feats.