Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.
17 Марта 2015
The upstanding feathers, the dying roses, the vivid plaid, the skulls and bones… Can there have ever been such a sensory and stimulating fashion exhibition?
Wilcox described the influence on McQueen of Generation Sensation, referring to the YBAs or Young British Artists. They were all those creative figures picked out by art dealer Charles Saatchi in the 1990s. McQueen was close friends with Jake and Dinos Chapman, known as the Chapman Brothers. The designer also seemed to have a similar attitude to the presence of death in life as seen in Damien Hirst’s infamous dead shark of 1991.
Since. 2001, McQueen has been part of the luxury group now called Kering. But this show does not even answer a question that might well be posed by visitors: how did they turn any of these weird clothes into a buck?
The tone is set by a striking frock coat, inspired by the story of Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper, from the first collection the designer created for his graduation in 1992 from Central Saint Martins. A low-slung pair of trousers, known as the ‘bumster’, is a reminder of the look that McQueen unleashed into the world of hip-hop and street culture.
If you already know the trajectory, the information is there in these opening rooms that Wilcox presents. But there is little more to explain the early part of McQueen’s life — unless something is hidden in the cream-on-stone, rather unreadable captions at floor-level.
In these rooms, you hear the voice of McQueen (if the crowd of an already-sold-out show does not obscure them). Nowhere are there visual images of the designer talking — but that is perhaps because the museum is eager to move things along at a reasonable speed.
Was McQueen a romantic in fashion terms? Maybe, if you look at the dead roses clinging to an evening gown. No, if you compare his work to that arch romantic Christian Dior.
I see all those McQueen flowers, shells, horns and bones as props for storytelling. As expressed in one essay, Show And Tell, in the book, McQueen’s urge was “to elevate a fashion show from the mere mechanical act of showing fashion into a narrative medium”. In that, he was the soul brother to John Galliano, who also gets no mention in the exhibition.
Context is so important in fashion. Clothes do not come to life by themselves, but from roots which are watered by the culture of their time.
Go and see the “Savage Beauty” exhibition. It is a must. But if you are a dedicated follower of fashion, invest in the Alexander McQueen book, too.
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