Wednesday, June 29, 2011

savage beauty

After our final performance in New York, our summer holidays began. I kicked mine off by staying an extra week at home on Long Island, enjoying some quality crazy time with my family and boyfriend. Suburban downtime was mixed with a healthy dose of playing New York City tourist: walking around downtown Manhattan, exploring the beautiful new High Line park, eating really excellent food, etc. etc. Aside from generally soaking up New York City, there was one specific thing I had on my agenda: the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As someone who regularly steps outside her apartment looking like a homeless person (due mostly, I have come to think, to my schizophrenic head of hair), I may not seem like the fashion exhibition type. However, beneath the black-goes-with-black, this-smells-clean ensemble lies someone who is, in fact, a big fan of fashion. When I was 18 and living in Miami, I used to go down to this fantastic small boutique on Lincoln Road to shell out $15 for French Vogue. I could understand maybe three words in every issue, but I would read it like some sort of Bible. And here in Denmark, I will often sacrifice good kroner at Magasin for American Vogue--justifying this purchase as a "slice of home" that I can fully understand. My lack of daily style is not indicative at all of my love for fashion. My mentality is such: had I the funds to purchase the wardrobe I desire, I would readily do so. Since I do not currently possess such gold, and wish to remain out of 'minus,' I make do with the closet full of so-so clothes that I have. And when I do occasionally have money to burn, I carefully select one hopefully timeless item on which to splurge.

When I read that Alexander McQueen was the subject of a fashion exhibit at the Met, I was thrilled. From my years of devouring Vogue, I had picked him as one of my dream, fairytale life designers. To me, McQueen's collections seemed more like wearable, almost painfully beautiful art--more so than almost any other designer's. The descriptions of his runway shows made me love him even more; his runway presentations told stories, bringing drama and emotion to the fantastical garments he created. And beneath the masterful execution and magical quality of his collections was always a sense of beautiful darkness, a hint of "savage beauty," as it were.

According to those who knew him, McQueen was a deeply troubled but optimistic person, one with a great knowledge and respect for history, and with an immeasurable imagination. The Met exhibition, stunningly arranged and beautifully comprehensive, shows that with McQueen's tragic death in February of last year, the world lost a true visionary artist. I can honestly say that this exhibit was one of my favorite museum experiences of my life, and I can only wish that I could see it just once more.

Dress, ivory silk organza, Widows of Culloden (autumn/winter 2006-7).

Coat of duck feathers painted gold, autumn/winter 2010-11.

Dress, white cotton spray-painted black and yellow with underskirt of white silk, No. 13 (spring/summer 1999).

"Oyster" dress, ivory silk, Irere (spring/summer 2003).

Dress, black duck feathers, The Horn of Plenty (autumn/winter 2009-10).

Dress, cream silk and lace with resin antlers, Widows of Culloden (autumn/winter 2006-7).

Images from the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists. I have to force people to look at things." ~ Alexander McQueen (1969-2010)

1 comment:

yvonne@attractedtoshinythings said...

Absolutely breathtaking. I love the first dress, it just explodes. I could spend hours just looking at it, soaking in every detail. His designs were/are truly timeless. Good for you that you got to have this experience first hand.