Text by Marino Bombini and Barbara Laneve
Fashion exhibitions have got an increasing attention over the last decade, but what earned them a higher status as arts exhibitions use to have was undoubtedly Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at Metropolitan Museum in New York, back in 2011.
“Its huge success was definitely the turning point for fashion exhibitions“ says Louise Rytter, curator Claire Wilcox ́s first assistant. “That’s why it was quite logical to bring it here in London, where Alexander McQueen belongs, where he studied, to expand what was made at Met. And in this place, the V&A, which saw him coming to get most of his inspiration.“
In fact, the expansion is quite terrific. Savage Beauty, the major retrospective ever of British visionary designer Lee Alexander McQueen at V&A is something you can barely experience anywhere else, not only for its magnitude but also for the atmosphere (made tangible by music, films and wall decorations) which leads visitors down deep the designer ́s world.
The Cabinet of Curiosities is the summat of this world: hundreds of objects, and dresses and headpieces and jewellery (another incredible talent by McQueen was his ability to collaborate with stunning crafters such as millinery Philip Treacy or jeweller Shaun Leane) all casted in a double-height gallery, interspersed with film footage of nearly all of his catwalk shows, Givenchy times including.
On Alexander McQueen all has already been said, but for mortals not even close to his genius there ́s a lot more to see and feel thanks to this exhibition, to which no one has ever thought to refuse their collaboration (from Daphne Guinness to Katy England, to Annabelle Neilson, not to mention to curators from Isabella Blow archive), for their endless love for Lee.
“On a scale from 1 to 10 a hundred is what I rate the immense work behind the scene, impossible without Sarah Burton ́s unquestionable support“ miss Rytter continues.
And of course the fundamental effort from sponsors like Swaroski, American Express, MAC, and Samsung, without which this important page of fashion history couldn’t be written.