Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

After the epic shopping trip so well documented by other fabbers, I spent the next day with my Mum at the V&A, where we were lucky enough to see the spectacular Alexander McQueen retrospective. 

The sheer scope of this incredible body of work makes very clear that McQueen was much more than just a fashion designer. In fact, his visionary haute couture went so far beyond costume that sometimes it's hard to describe it as clothing. There's an artistry to his work that I've never seen anywhere else in fashion, and it deals with nature, politics, love and death. But he was also a master craftsman, famously apprenticed in his teens at Saville Row, and it informs his art in the virtuoso tailoring and meticulous detail of all his creations. 

Perhaps most impressive is the breadth of influences he brought to the medium, which were always interpreted with a very consistent vision and purpose. Everything in there was very different from everything else, but all of it was unmistakably his. He achieved more in his relatively short career than lesser artists manage in a lifetime. 

The whole thing left me with a huge sense of sadness that he took his life at a moment when he was so clearly at the top of his game. 

Unfortunately, photography in the exhibition was prohibited, but the Met Museum blog has a huge feature on the exhibition from the original display in New York. I've pulled a few pictures from their page of selected objects.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Joy replied 5 years ago

    Thank you for giving us a glimpse of this amazing exhibition. Really works of art.

  • deb replied 5 years ago

    thank you for sharing. i would love to see his work.

  • tulle replied 5 years ago

    Everyone I know who has seen the exhibit says the same thing.  And interestingly, even people who are not into fashion seem to be moved by it.  Clearly, he was a craftsman and an artist.  I'm guessing you would love to have a vintage McQueen piece, Approbrio!

  • Astrid replied 5 years ago

    Stunning. I would love to see it.

  • catgirl replied 5 years ago

    I want to see this so badly.

  • approprio replied 5 years ago

    heh yeah tulle, i would love that! I stupidly walked past a beautiful McQ tuxedo jacket a few years ago, but I do have a couple of scarves. And one of these days, I promise I am going to make one of these.

  • replied 5 years ago

    I would love, love, love to be able to see this exhibit, and actually flirted with the idea of booking a flight to NY and hoping to get a ticket to it.  Of course it never happened, but I've thought about it many times since.  How lucky you were to get in !  The NYC exhibits were sold out - quickly. He remains one of my fashion industry "heroes" (although that word he wouldn't like) for many reasons.  I have a few books on his work, and look forward to reading the newest on Galliano and McQueen.  

  • Maneera replied 5 years ago

    Fascinating. I feel that 6&7 call out to something deep inside me....I can't put a finger on exactly what about them intrigues me so much....the architectural lines and sleek modernistic cuts in those pieces I presume. Thanks a lot for this. I'm
    Off to research more on his work

  • Greyscale replied 5 years ago

    Wasn't it amazing? I saw it in New York, and I even bought the book so I could enjoy it later. I should flip through the book again.

  • Thistle replied 5 years ago


  • Sal replied 5 years ago

    Thanks, I love this. One of my happiest memories is a visit to the Victoria and Albert to see a Grace Kelly exhibition. London museums are amazing.

  • Michelle replied 5 years ago

    You've made me want to read up on him. Preferably from a source that will describe his work well. At this point all I know about McQueen looks is that they were dramatic and avant-garde.

  • Cococat replied 5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this Approprio. The exhibition would have been amazing! He was so talented and it is such a sad story that he took his own life.

    Thank you for linking the kimono jacket. I have downloaded it and would love to make it. It's gorgeous!

  • tulle replied 5 years ago

    Oh, that kimono--I love it!  I have a piece of deep blue ikat silk that would be perfect for it, if it's big enough. Hmm.  Maybe we should encourage each other to try it!  Do you have a certain fabric in mind?

  • approprio replied 5 years ago

    Michelle: do explore the pages from the Met Museum blog I linked above. Many of the items have audio recordings by models and collaborators describing his work, which was very radical but always beautiful.

    One of my favourite pieces are the prosthetic legs he made for Aimee Mullins, the Paralympic athlete with whom he collaborated extensively.  They are carved from ash to look like a pair of elaborate boots with an elegant heel, but of course they're solid wood. She talks about them here:

    tulle, CocoC: the kimono jacket is notorious for being a difficult pattern to follow. The size is a UK10/US6. I took the PDF and enlarged it to what I hope is around a UK14/US10, which should fit me OK. I'll probably try a toile in papertouch poplin before attempting it in silk.

    This is the best tutorial I've found for demystifying the impossible instructions

  • Echo replied 5 years ago

    Lee Alexander McQueen has always been my favourite designer. As you said, he was a visionary and an artist, and his creations spoke about far more than fashion. He is deeply missed.

    Your tribute outfit is fab, and I love the interpretation of Dress, No. 13.

  • columbine(erin) replied 5 years ago

    It is always a joy to read your writing, Approprio, thanks.

  • Cococat replied 5 years ago

    Thank you for the link Approprio. It looks challenging but I would like to try it.

    I can see that a toile would be the way to go before investing in expensive fabric. It does deserve beautiful fabric! I would love to hear how you go with it.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    This is truly amazing. Thank you so much for showing these to us. I just missed the exhibit when it was in New York and was so sad that I could not extend my trip by a few days to see it....

    I'm in awe at these photos alone. Thank you for the links -- will be exploring. 

  • approprio replied 5 years ago

    Here's a detailed piece on the cultural context of McQueen's work by British writer Marina Warner. It's a little dense but rewards the reading for anyone who's interested:

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