Its not often that an exhibition blows my mind and takes me on an emotional rollercoaster, but thats what happened last week when my friend Sarah and I finally stuck out the long line and made our way into The Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.
"You've got to know the rules to break them. That's what I'm here for, to demolish the rules but keep the tradition." -Alexander McQueen
This very month fifteen years ago (when I was 15) I enrolled in a summer program at a art university. It was then that I was introduced to the work of McQueen by my fashion professor who besides never having taught a class before, happened to be a close friend of McQueens since childhood. He described helping Lee (Alexander was his middle name) build his first collection in a bare bones flat where they had to take the doors down and turn them into tables to have sufficient work surfaces. His stories stayed with me and I'd often think of them when fashion week rolled around and I'd check out McQueen's latest collection.
McQueen was brilliant and his collections were always dramatic and pushed the envelope. One of the joys of this exhibit was walking through with Sarah (one of my bffs and fellow FIT fashion design alum) and pointing out to one another the pieces we remember from past collections and getting closer looks at all the intricacy and attention to detail within each piece.
Highlights of the exhibition for me include:
-The glass casket in the Romantic Gothic room featuring McQueen's Angels and Demons. This gold gilded, feathered, and engineered printed collection showed his passion for art history.
-Also in the Romantic Gothic room, the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious silk parachute coat inspired by Tim Burton with a small fan hidden in the floor blowing it open.
-The Cabinet of Curiosities room, with cubbies containing incredible accessories from his collections such as the Chinese Garden cork head piece by Phillip Treacy Feith, beautiful bodices of wood or molded leather and the splatter paint dress (shown atop this post) where above the dress you could watch video footage from the 1999 show where Shalom Harlow came out in a white dress and she stood on a rotating platform as robots aggressively spray painted her.
-The Romantic Exoticism room with its mirrored walls and rotating mannequins that I later learned was designed to simulate a jewelry box.
-The disturbing yet beautiful wallpaper made from McQueen drawings that was blown up and repeated as you walked into the Romantic Naturalism room.
-The hologram. This little hologram that you have to bend down to watch literally took my breath away. It starts as a little blue/white smokey light and becomes Kate Moss in and "Oyster" dress of hundreds of layers of raw edged silk organza, spinning and moving as the music from Schindler's List plays. There are no words to describe how beautiful this was. Then once the hologram show is finished you can admire the actual dress (shown below) as you walk into the next room.
This exhibit has been extended (for the second time) to August 7th. If you're in NYC or have plans of visiting, make the trip on over to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The line is long and the exhibit will most likely be packed, but its hands down one of the best exhibitions I've ever seen. The rooms are transformed floor to ceiling and your taken on a journey of the genius that was Lee Alexander McQueen.
All images from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.