‘Savage Beauty’, the first retrospective of the work of Alexander McQueen, is a fittingly theatrical tribute to one of London’s most visionary fashion talents. Its three-month run at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art not only managed to sell out completely, it was also the most popular exhibition in fashion history. And, from next spring, it’s coming home to London. Hurrah! We went down this morning to take a sneak peek. Here’s everything you need to know about 2015’s hottest ticket.
1. The V & A is the natural home for McQueen’s work. He spent hours poring over its fashion archives while studying at Central Saint Martins, describing it as ‘the sort of place I’d like to be shut in overnight.’ The designer had a longstanding relationship with the museum, which was one of the first to display his work: ‘Savage Beauty’ curator Claire Wilcox admits that she blew most of the budget for 2001’s ‘Radical Fashion’ showcase on McQueen’s section.
2. London’s managed to beat off heavy competition from other cities – there’s currently a clutch of petitions doing the rounds on the internet, with McQueen devotees begging for ‘Savage Beauty’ to come to their home town.
3. Naturally, we’ve managed to out-do the Americans a bit. The London leg of ‘Savage Beauty’ is a third bigger than the New York’s version, with 30 new garments added thanks to collectors like Katy England and Annabelle Neilson, as well as pieces lent from the Isabella Blow collection. Altogether, there’ll be over 200 ensembles and accessories on display: that’s the largest number of McQueen designs and collaborations seen in one place, ever.
4. With five months to go until opening night, the exhibition is still growing and changing, too. The curators are looking to hunt down earlier, rarer pieces from McQueen’s first seven collections, which will form part of the new London section, which explores McQueen’s local roots.
5. As well as exhibits focusing on the influences behind the collections, the show’s centrepiece is the Cabinet of Curiosities, presented in the V&A’s glorious double-height gallery. There’ll be over 100 garments and accessories, set against screens showing catwalk footage from McQueen’s famously theatrical catwalk shows. Previously unseen pieces include a gold horned headpiece, designed for Givenchy, and an eerie sequinned top which uses the Russian Romanov children as a motif – Alexander McQueen was always one for a bit of controversy.
6. Kate Moss makes an appearance – in holographic form. There’ll be a whole room dedicated to recreating Pepper’s Ghost, the iconic finale to McQueen’s AW ’06 show, The Widows of Culloden. Using nineteenth century technology, a spectral version of London’s favourite model will appear nearly life size.
7. Sixteen thousand tickets have already been bought, with the V&A estimating that it will prove just as popular as its 2013 exploration of another iconic Londoner (and McQueen client), ‘David Bowie Is’. So if you haven’t nabbed one already, we’d recommend getting a move on – it’s a guaranteed sell-out.
Find out more at vam.ac.uk.
By Katie Rosseinsky