Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty


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On Thursday 18 June, Textiles GCSE and A level students set off for the V&A Museum to visit the Alexander McQueen ‘Savage Beauty’ exhibition. Our time slot began at 10.45 so, when we arrived by Underground, we had a while to look around the open exhibition about fashion throughout the ages.

It was extraordinary to examine how fashion has evolved and how every outfit was seen as a work of art for many centuries. The exhibition, ‘Savage Beauty’, has been reviewed in many newspapers and magazines, a thrilling experience that explores a whole new way of seeing fashion.

I was especially excited to visit the exhibition as my GCSE Unit 2 is based on the Natural World. I have been exploring the world of nature through art and fashion, which is just what Alexander McQueen did, working with incredible materials such as feathers from geese, butterfly wings, scales and birds of paradise and the idea of a supernatural world where all creatures can fly.
Unfortunately we were not permitted to take pictures or draw sketches, but photographs and sketches cannot express how stunning McQueen’s work was; every dress, suit and jacket was a work of art. Throughout the exhibition there were quotes from McQueen himself which I noted as even they were inspirational, ‘I’m a romantic schizophrenic’, ‘I want to be the purveyor of a certain silhouette or a way of cutting so that when I’m dead and gone people will know that the 21st century was started by Alexander McQueen.’

One of my favourite rooms, in such an exquisite exhibition, was a room filled with bird noises, reflecting the emotion of peace that McQueen experienced. Then there was a sudden contrast in sound effects as though we were trapped; the rotating dresses around us like wind-up toys explore the element of childhood in which Alexander McQueen was trapped. This I felt made us a part of McQueen’s journey revealed in the winged masks, bodices, headpieces and dresses which surrounded us in this room.

McQueen frequently explored the notion of the metamorphic female body and this is shown by so many shapes and silhouettes. McQueen said, ‘I oscillate between life and death, happiness and sadness, good and evil.’ Through his spectacular catwalks, McQueen unleashed powerful feelings as a source of aesthetic experience which have been recreated epically in this exhibition.

After the exhibition we had a relaxing lunch in the sun outside in the courtyard and then we had free time to look around the shop and the V&A museum. Overall the day was really great. It was amazing to experience such a spectacular exhibition and look into a big part of such an inspirational man’s life: Alexander McQueen. I would love to visit the exhibition again and also visit the shoe exhibition in the V&A.

‘Fashion can be really racist, looking at the clothes of other cultures and costumes. That’s mundane and it’s old hat. Let’s break down some barriers.’ Alexander McQueen

by Martha Barnes 10G



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