The name Alexander McQueen holds a powerful and influential weight in the world of fashion.
‘Savage Beauty’, currently on show at The V&A is a detailed and intricate journey into the creative mind of this couture genius. From the first room in the exhibition you can immediately sense that McQueen’s designs were not your usual high-street fashion finds with swathes of fabric on many of the jackets which would have made it almost impossible to wear in everyday life and certainly only fit for models on the runway, but each one had a strong sense of romanticism and drama to them.
The second room hits you like a strong drink as you are surrounded by mirrored walls with embellished gold boarders and tall mannequins with fierce looking head-dresses and masks wearing ensembles which can only be descried as ‘Gothic Horror’. The haunting sound design only adds to the nightmarish horrors of the displays around you. As you look around the room, you get the sense that this was where the exhibition name came from – Savage Beauty – leather, studs, sequins, feather, chiffon and silk all in deep black layers and swathes whilst threatening, are all extraordinary works of art. Studded black leather shoes and boots all with six or seven inches of thick high heel only added to the darkness and drama of the collection. One mannequin covered from head to toe in deep black feathers with large wings struck me as being a resemblance to the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart in the classical ballet, Swan Lake.
Perhaps the most intense and thrillingdisplay throughout the exhibition is the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. A room so full of accessories, clothed mannequins and videos showing iconic McQueen catwalk shows, it is impossible not to leave awestruck and inspired. You got the sense that you were inside McQueen’s mind in this room, a world of colour, texture, adventure and cutting-edge fashion. Despite the fact that the room was full of others vying to get the best view of the exhibition, there was definitely an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ feeling, in the sense that you felt like you had travelled into another world and were all alone surrounded by weird and wonderful things.
It is not all grim and surreal though, as you leave the shadowy ‘world of Hades’ and arrive in a brightly lit room displaying McQueen’s famous wool tartan creations to one side with scarlet dresses fit for a queen on the other. The dress made famous by actress Sarah Jessica-Parker is on display along with a selection of wool tartan, silk, net, lace, tulle and leather creations. Scarlet Disney queen-style dresses are rich with feathers, gold, silk and velvet – the ultimate in luxurious high-end couture. Gold embellished head-dresses add a regal element to this striking display.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty is an exciting and thrilling exhibition. As far as couture and cutting-edge fashion goes, this is a perfect example. McQueen was clearly a very talented but troubled man, yet the legacy he has created through his designs means he will forever be considered as one of the leaders in British Fashion Industry.
The exhibition runs until 2nd August 2015.