London Life Exhibitions

Alexander Mcqueen at the V&A

March 30, 2015

Last week I went to the Alexander McQueen fashion exhibition at the V & A. One of the most anticipated exhibitions in recent years it did not disappoint. I will go as far as to say that it was probably amongst the best exhibitions I’ve ever seen.

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
Duck feather dress | The Horn of Plenty, A/W 2009-10 | Alexander McQueen | Model: Magdalena Frackowiak represented by dna model management New York, Image: firstVIEW

Why is that, you may ask? Well, I see quite a few exhibitions every year and am fortunate to live in London where you get to see the cream of the crop. But what makes a great exhibition? It can be one or all of the following:

1. You love the artist, designer, theme, subject matter
2. The curation is exceptional
3. Both work hand in hand

In this case it’s definitely number 3. As I walked through the exhibition I kept thinking that Alexander McQueen would have absolutely loved it. The only major retrospective in Europe of this talented and visionary fashion designer, it celebrates McQueen’s career in the most spectacular way. A few years in the making, no costs have been spared. The attention to detail is exquisite and the production team deserves a medal. Lights, videos, rotating mannequins, holograms and the music will blow your mind and you’ll leave elated and inspired.

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
Portrait of Alexander McQueen | 1997 | Photographed by Marc Hom | © Marc Hom / Trunk Archive

It felt like a wonderful theatrical piece of storytelling, starting with McQueen’s Central Saint Martin’s postgraduate collection of 1992 to his final designs for A/W 2010, completed after his death. The rooms became grander and more spectacular as you go along.

I loved this Romantic Gothic room, where all walls were lined with framed mirrors.

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
Installation view of ‘Romantic Gothic’ gallery |  2015 | Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A | Victoria and Albert Museum, London

My absolute favourite part was the Cabinet of Curiosities, a double-height room with a plethora of box frames showcasing individual showpieces. I could have stayed there for hours, absorbing myself into McQueen’s world. Totally inspired, I was however also aware of the thin line between genius and madness.

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
Installation view of ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ gallery | 2015 | Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A | Victoria and Albert Museum, London

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
Butterfly headdress of hand-painted turkey feathers | La Dame Bleue,S/S 2008 | Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen | Model: Alana Zimmer, © Anthea Simms

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
Installation view of ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ gallery | 2015 | Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A | Victoria and Albert Museum, London

alexander mcqueen at the v&a - colourliving
My sketchbook spread drawn while in the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ gallery (outline only) and coloured in afterwards.

Savage Beauty is definitely worth travelling for. If you live in London or in the UK then get yourself a ticket pronto. If you live in Europe, like fashion, museums and London, then make sure not to miss this extravaganza. Check for times and tickets. It’s very popular but look at maybe visiting early in the morning.

I cannot wait to go again.

“The collection at the V&A never fail to intrigue and inspire me. The nation is privileged to have access to such a resource….. it’s the sort of place I’d like to be shut in overnight.”
Alexander McQueen

Alexander Mc Queen: Savage Beauty
Victoria and Albert Museum
14 March – 2 August 2015
www.vam.ac.uk/savagebeauty

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11 Comments

  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey March 30, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Great looking exhibit indeed and pretty spectacular oeuvre for what was a relatively short career-span. The duck feather dress image is incredible! Glad you enjoyed

    • Reply tina March 30, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      It was spectacular a with a real WOW factor. As it has barely opened I hadn’t yet heard much about it so was really pleasantly surprised.

      I LOVED it all. Thanks G x

  • Reply Louise - 30s Magazine March 30, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Nice recap and impressed with your sketch in such a short time. Will never forget this lovely morning I spent with you at this amazing production 🙂

    • Reply tina March 30, 2015 at 10:46 pm

      Hello you. Was a great morning. Will also always remember us going around saying: wow, wow, WOW!
      A special treat. So glad I went with you.

      Haha. Sketch a little sparse but that’s all I could draw in those few minutes. xx

  • Reply Holly March 31, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    wow wow wow! I feel lucky to follow this blog so that I can get a glimpse of this extraordinariness too! I don’t know much about fashion design/designers, but this feels really special. Butterfly headdress, could look at it for hours…

    Thanks for taking us along Tina. Love your sketch 🙂

    xoxo

    • Reply tina April 2, 2015 at 1:34 am

      What a lovely thing to say… Thank you!!!! xx

  • Reply Catherine @ farmhousehome April 1, 2015 at 3:34 am

    Wow how incredible! It looks to be on par with the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition that’s here in Melbourne due to finish soon. Reading this I had visions of you standing or sitting sketching the brillance. xx

    • Reply tina April 2, 2015 at 1:37 am

      I love JPG. We had a great restrospective here in London. I hope you got to go and see it before it finishes.

      Haha, no, just sat down for 10’mns and did a quick sketch. Most areas were too dark to sketch in. xx

  • Reply Anya Jensen April 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Oh it looks like a fab exhibition – hopefully I can make that this Summer in London. Love your sketching – so brilliant. Happy almost Easter xxx

    • Reply tina April 2, 2015 at 1:39 am

      Oh, hopefully you will get to see it. I think you would love it…

      Thank you:-)

      Happy Easter to you all. Xxx

  • Reply Alison Sye April 13, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Amazing – and I still haven’t managed to get there. I haven’t seen a bad review.

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