New York—Alexander McQueen’s fashion genius might be called esoteric by some outside the industry, but an upcoming exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute aims to change that, making his work accessible to the public at large.
More than 100 pieces of the renegade British designer’s work will be on display, dating from 1994 to his final collection (the 40-year-old McQueen comitted suicide just days before London Fashion Week in February 2010).
Pieces on display will include signature designs like the bumster trouser, kimono jacket and Origami frock coat, plus items reflecting the exaggerated silhouettes of the 1860s, 1880s, 1890s and 1950s that McQueen crafted into contemporary silhouettes transmitting romantic narratives.
McQueen’s ‘Savage Mind’
“Alexander McQueen was best known for his astonishing and extravagant runway presentations, which were given dramatic scenarios and narrative structures that suggested avant-garde installation and performance art,” said Andrew Bolton, curator of The Costume Institute. “His fashions were an outlet for his emotions, an expression of the deepest, often darkest, aspects of his imagination. He was a true romantic in the Byronic sense of the word – he channeled the sublime.”
Galleries will showcase recurring themes and concepts in McQueen’s work:
“The Savage Mind” examines how he used deconstruction to subvert traditional tailoring and dressmaking practices; “Romantic Gothic” highlights his narrative approach to fashion and illuminate his engagement with Romantic literary traditions such as death, decay, and darkness; “Romantic Nationalism” examines his fascination with the distant past; “Romantic Exoticism” will examine his focus on distant places; and “Romantic Primitivism” explores his engagement with the ideal of the “noble savage.”
The exhibit runs May to July 31 and will be kicked off by the Museum’s Costume Institute Gala Benefit on May 2.
In addition to five of his landmark collections, the show will also include a “Cabinet of Curiosities,” including various objects produced with milliner Philip Treacy and jeweler Shaun Leane, longtime McQueen collaborators. A separate screening room will show runway videos.
The book, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty by Andrew Bolton, will accompany the exhibition.
For more information, go to www.metmuseum.org.