To say the V&A and the Tate are about to experience a busy spell is something of an understatement. Why? Two words. Alexander McQueen.
The late British fashion designer features in two major London shows at the respective galleries from this week. There’s already been a rush on ticket sales and fashion insiders from around the globe are expected to flock to them.
It’s understandable. From the moment Lee Alexander McQueen burst onto the London Fashion Week scene in 1993, sending models down the runway in dresses hand-printed to look like they were covered in blood, it was clear he was a one-off. In many ways he was an artist as much as he was a designer and his shows were incredibly theatrical events that would leave fashion editors in awe. Five years on from his tragic death, it seems his legacy will never be forgotten.
The V&A’s Savage Beauty retrospective, originally shown in 2011 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is long awaited. People have been campaigning for it to come to McQueen’s home town of London for months. At the Met, it became the eighth most popular show in their 141-year history, welcoming more than 8000 people a day. The V&A’s version is a third bigger, with an additional 30 garments and a whole section dedicated to his early days as a designer.
Highlights are expected to be pieces from his 1992 graduate collection ‘Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims’ and a holographic 3D image of Kate Moss in rippling organza, taken from the A/W 2006/7 Widows of Culloden catwalk show.
As for The Tate’s show, this is also a hot ticket not to be missed. A unique collaboration between photographer Nick Waplington and McQueen, it follows McQueen’s journey as he crafted his final Autumn/Winter 2009 collection, The Horn of Plenty.
The exhibition is unlike anything seen before, juxtaposing behind-the-scenes images of McQueen’s creative working process with photographs of landfill sites and recycling plants, to create a powerful commentary on destruction and creative renewal – the theme at the heart of The Horn of Plenty collection.
McQueen was never short of accolades throughout his career. He became a CBE in 2003 and was awarded British Designer of the Year four times between 1996 and 2003. Five years since his passing, our appreciation for his work seems to keep on growing. As editor-in-chief of American Vogue Anna Wintour says, ‘In such a short career, Alexander McQueen’s influence was astonishing – from street style, to music culture and the world’s museums.’
Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process
10 March – 17 May 2015
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, in partnership with Swarovski, supported by American Express, with thanks to M∙A∙C Cosmetics and made possible with the co-operation of Alexander McQueen, runs from 14 March – 19 July 2015.