Thursday, November 11, 2010

Savage Beauty by Alexander McQueen

Fall 2008 Collection of Alexander McQueen

The work of the late Lee Alexander McQueen will be the subject of the spring 2011 exhibition at the Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This exhibition will celebrate McQueen’s contributions to fashion from his Central Saint Martins postgraduate collection in 1992 to his final runway presentation, which took place only weeks after his death in February 2010. Titled Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, the exhibition will celebrate the work of  McQueen in challenging and expanding the scope of fashion from mere beautiful clothes to a conceptual expression of culture, politics, and identity.

This exhibition will be on view from May 4 through July 31, 2011 and will be preceded on May 2 by The Costume Institute Gala Benefit. The evening’s Honorary Chairs are Fran├žois-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek, and the Co-Chairs will be Colin Firth, Stella McCartney, and Anna Wintour.

Here is an extract of the press release describing what will be on display:

The exhibition, in the Metropolitan Museum’s second-floor Cantor Galleries, will feature approximately 100 examples of Mr. McQueen’s work from his prolific 19- year career. Drawn primarily from the Alexander McQueen Archive in London, with some pieces from the Givenchy Archive in Paris as well as private collections, signature designs including the bumster trouser, the kimono jacket, and the Origami frock coat will be on view. McQueen’s fashions often referenced the exaggerated silhouettes of the 1860s, 1880s, 1890s, and 1950s, but his technical ingenuity always imbued his designs with an innovative sensibility that kept him at the vanguard.

Galleries will showcase recurring themes and concepts in McQueen’s work beginning with “The Savage Mind” which will examine his subversion of traditional tailoring and dressmaking practices through displacement and deconstruction. “Romantic Gothic” will highlight McQueen’s narrative approach to fashion and illuminate his engagement with Romantic literary traditions such as death, decay, and darkness. It will also reveal the main characters of his collections, including femme fatales and anti-heroes such as pirates and highwaymen. “Romantic Nationalism” will look at McQueen’s fascination with the distant past, while “Romantic Exoticism” will examine his focus on distant places. “Romantic Primitivism” will explore McQueen’s engagement with the ideal of the “noble savage.”

Five of McQueen’s landmark collections that explore his engagement with the Romantic sublime and the dialectics of beauty and horror will be interspersed among the galleries -- Dante (autumn/winter 1996-97), Number 13 (spring/ summer 1999), Voss (spring/summer 2001), Irere (spring/summer 2003), and Plato’s Atlantis (spring/summer 2010). “Cabinet of Curiosities” will include various atavistic and fetishized objects often produced with milliner Philip Treacy and jeweler Shaun Leane, longtime collaborators of McQueen’s. A separate screening room will display videos of McQueen’s renowned runway presentations.