When famous fashion designer, Alexander McQueen died of a suicide last year, I don’t think I knew the magnitude of what we lost in the fashion world. Until I saw Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at The Met. For years, I’ve seen and admired his collections in magazines, but to see his work in person was jaw dropping. His level of craftsmanship combined with is his sense of style was amazing. From goth to romanticism, he modernized looks of yesteryear.
Walking through the gallery at The Met was poetry in motion. Each room features designs from different collections, from goth, romantic, naturalism and tribalism to futuristic. Viewing his collection, you can see not only the artistry his designs but also his love of history, by acknowledging and referencing his Scottish heritage in his “Highland Rape” and to England’s history in the collection called “The Girl Who Lived in the Tree”.
The extraordinary craftmanship in the clothes is beyond what I envisioned of the show. After all, he did work as a tailor on Saville Row in London. The pieces presented at The Met are the theatrical to say the least, but from these you get the feeling you’re in a room of a showman-designer. The statuesque mannequins wearing unique headpieces and his signature amardillo shoes, with the designs so close you could see the intricate stitching detail.
McQueen used accessories to intensify his designs. He worked with famous accessories designers, such as milliner Philip Treacy and jewelry designer Sarah Harmarnee. In one the rooms, “Cabinet of Curiosities”, an entire wall is filled with outrageous headdresses that would make any model shutter with awe with the thought of wearing one. To say the least it was intense.
There’s also the video of the hologram of Kate Moss from the his Fall 2006 Collection. Kate Moss is wearing an organza ruffle dress and the dress billows and folds with the wind. It’s simply angelic. Everyone in the gallery stands there mesmerized by the simplistic beauty of it.
After seeing McQueen’s work at The Met, I’m left with the question I’ve asked many people over the years. Can fashion be art? Is there an art to designing? Most people look at what they are wearing and say “Of course not, it’s just clothes”. I say, “How very, very sad…….” They have no clue what they are missing. I think clothes can bring beauty, truth and raw emotion to everyday life. I think McQueen did just that. He will be greatly missed.