Alexander McQueen in 1997
Sixteen-thousand tickets have already been bought for «Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty». The fashion exhibition about the maverick but compelling British designer runs from March 14 to July 19 at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
At a press conference at the V&A, creations on display included McQueen’s weird and wonderful platform boots and digitally printed dresses he made for the 2010 Plato’s Atlantis show. Martin Roth, the museum’s director, discussed how this show would follow or deviate from the exhibition staged at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
That previous event was held shortly after the suicide of McQueen in February 2010, at the age 40. The same team of Sam Gainsbury and Anna Whiting will redesign the exhibition for the V&A, including a room arranged like a “cabinet of curiosities”.
Tahitian pearl neckpiece by Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen, spring/summer 2001
“Lee and I often came here to the museum to look through the archives, and I remember when we found a Victorian wedding dress made of Beatle wings,” said Sarah Burton, referring to the name by which she knew Lee Alexander McQueen when she was his assistant. She ultimately took over the house as creative director and famously made the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress.
Other McQueen pieces on display included a printed jacket from the 1997 It’s a Jungle Out There show, and a sparkling crystal “bell jar” dress from 2009.
Birds Nest Headdress made with Swarovski gemstones by Philip Treacy and Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen, autumn/winter 2006
Nadja Swarovski, whose company is a major sponsor of the exhibition, said that McQueen was one of the first designers to support the modern use of crystal.
Claire Wilcox, senior curator of fashion at the V&A, will be in charge of the exhibition, with Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as consultant curator.
Erin O’Connor in a dress of dyed ostrich feathers and hand-painted microscopic slides, spring/summer 2001
Above all, the tribute to McQueen will be on his own territory.
“I came in here and I thought I was going to cry,” said Sarah Burton, saying that the exhibition would be enhanced by the designer’s early works in London.
“I am happier about it being here than anywhere else in the world,” said Sarah. “The exhibition touched so many people in New York. Now it’s coming home.”
Shalom Harlow in spray-painted dress No. 13, spring summer 1999
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, in partnership with Swarovski, supported by American Express and made possible with the co-operation of Alexander McQueen, runs from 14 March — 19 July 2015. Vam.ac.uk/savagebeauty