Fashion Theater: Alexander McQueen Plays the Met

July 10, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Gowns from "Savage Beauty." Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It’s the last week to see the current survey of Alexander McQueen’s work on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. On August 4 and August 5, the exhibition will be open until 9 p.m. On its last two days— August 6 and 7— the exhibition will remain open until midnight.

The exhibition, “Savage Beauty,” acts as a  kind of shrine to the late designer’s ambition; McQueen believed that fashion could be another form of conceptual art. Displaying a dramatic array of his designs — dresses, jackets, coats — the exhibit hones in on McQueen’s desire to elevate fashion beyond mere fabric and runways. Andrew Bolton, the curator of both the Met’s Costume Institute and the McQueen exhibition, set out to display the work in a way that it would “unfold like a fairytale.”

To that effect, the exhibit consists of different rooms, each with a different look at Romanticism. According to Bolton, McQueen viewed “everything with the lens of the nineteenth century.” One room plays on the “Romantic Mind,” focusing on McQueen’s tailoring skills. Another invokes the “Romantic Gothic,” which highlights concepts such as life and death within the designer’s work. “Cabinet of Curiosities” spotlights McQueen’s collaboration with accessory designers.

Bolton worked with the producers of McQueen’s runway shows to make the exhibit a truly immersive experience, incorporating sounds and music from the shows. The New Yorker said that the show is a “shamelessly theatrical” experience that points up both the technical skill and the imagination of the late designer. Bolton believes that McQueen, “knew the skills of his craft so well, he was able to subvert them.”


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“Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,” is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until Aug. 7.

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