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Savage Beauty

2011 June 20

I got the chance to go see the Alexander McQueen exhibit, Savage Beauty, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last weekend and I wanted to talk about it briefly here.

First, let me start by saying that though I’ve been a fan of fashion magazines since before I was old enough to read, I’m not one of those people who can rattle off a comment like “Oh, the  Michael Kors resort collection this year was so clearly influenced by Valentino and vintage Christian Dior.” I can sometimes tell a Cavalli from a Pucci, but I wouldn’t bet money on my accuracy. Basically, I don’t know much about high fashion. I’m more of a ready-to-wear kinda girl.

This exhibit wasn’t necessarily about the label or the fashion or the McQueen brand. It was about fashion as art, inspiration, and beauty. It was about the female form and challenging boundaries of what “feminine” means. So many of McQueen’s designs were built from sharp silhouettes and dark fabrics. There were skulls, human hair, leather masks. And while that’s not my preferred aesthetic typically, I was floored by this exhibit.

The Met did a great job of celebrating his work and his vision. Rather than housing the pieces under glass in the normal bright and quiet museum light, the work is displayed in a series of themed rooms equipped with eerie soundtracks, multimedia, rotating stands, and other surprises. The looks were displayed on dress forms, giving viewers a full 360 view in many instances (though the viewing was limited in some cases). The exhibit was very crowded, even early on a Sunday morning, making seeing everything clearly a little difficult, but if you’re patient, you should be able to manage.

One of my favorite pieces was a beautifully-cut jacket made of golden feathers. (Image via The Guardian)

I was most pleased to see the interest and crowds this exhibit has generated. I think that sometimes fashion gets a short shrift (ha) in terms of being thought of as an art form, compared to music or paintings or novels. Clothing can be as breathtaking, awe-striking, and inspiring as any other art, and I think this show is proof.

Have you had a chance to see the show? What did you think?

*Images via The Met

One Response Post a comment
  1. Raquel permalink
    June 20, 2011

    I hope I get a chance to see it! That feather jacket is glorious. I agree with you that fashion can be art. Whenever I put on a beautiful gown, I think of it as more than just a dress–it’s a work of art rendered in fabric. And you know how I feel about hats! People tend to forget that clothing can be art because clothing in its most elemental form can be pretty mundane: it’s what we wear to keep from going naked. It takes a real artist to elevate it from just garb to something more.

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