Fashion is all about new looks, so it is fitting that “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” takes a different form at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) than its original incarnation at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Claire Wilcox, the V&A’s senior fashion curator, describes the exhibition as a “revival”, given that the Met’s attendance record-breaking 2011 show was “never intended to tour”.
The V&A’s display has 30% more gallery space than the Met’s (additions include a section on the late designer’s early career in London), and the centrepiece is a cabinet of curiosities with more than 100 objects, lent by the London-based Alexander McQueen Archive and institutions including the Met and the Fashion Museum in Bath.
These pieces, which demonstrate McQueen’s influences (such as Victorian Gothic, memento mori and contemporary art) and his range of materials (including glass, leather and fur), are “fetishistic but extraordinarily beautifully rendered”, Wilcox says. She aimed to echo the choreography of McQueen’s catwalk shows, and this “intense and enclosed” experience gives way to a gallery with just one display: a life-sized Pepper’s Ghost of the British supermodel Kate Moss.
The show, which has been organised in partnership with Swarovski with support from American Express, concludes with “Plato’s Atlantis” from spring/summer 2010—McQueen’s final collection. The exhibition demonstrates the designer’s “multi-layered skill and richness of vision… [he was an] intelligent patron, commissioner and curator”, Wilcox says.
• Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 14 March-2 August
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'McQueen show refashioned in London'