V&A Alexander McQueen: tickets selling fast for next year's blockbuster
Alice Godwin gets a sneak peek at the V&A's Alexander McQueen exhibition, London 2015
The V&A's Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty doesn't open until 15 March next year, but 16,000 tickets have already been pre-ordered for the museum's feverishly-anticipated 2015 blockbuster devoted to the late-lamented British fashion designer.
You'd expect no less a welcome for this homage to London's much-loved, great lost talent, arriving in the capital after a run at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art which swept all before it.
As Claire Wilcox, the show's V&A curator said, ’his style might have been disruptive but it was always underpinned by exceptional skill’. And this theme of unapologetic individualism and creativity runs throughout the retrospective, highlighting McQueen’s unequivocal refusal to compromise his ideas.
Savage Beauty: Victoria and Albert Museum
To start with, hosting the exhibition at the V&A is a genius move. As the museum's director Martin Roth explained, bringing the show to London, ‘is like bringing the exhibition home’. McQueen, the son of a cab driver, was brought up in London, did research for his degree in the V&A’s fashion archives while studying at Central Saint Martins and worked here all his life. After five years at Givenchy, McQueen launched his own label in 2000 and went on to be part of several V&A projects, including the live catwalks ‘Fashion in Motion’, and exhibitions ‘Cutting Edge’ and ‘Radical Fashion’ (2004). As Wilcox says, ‘he only ever worked with people or places he loved and respected’, a principle fittingly upheld in this exhibition at his beloved V&A.
New additions to the V&A exhibition
With this return to London after sell-out success in the Met, Savage Beauty is getting a refresh: swelling in size by one third and gaining forty new accessories and garments. (‘And if anyone has anything else lying around do let us know!’ Wilcox urges.) Documenting the first seven shows from his clothing line, the exhibition also boasts a fantastic cabinet of curiosities with one hundred garments produced in collaboration with other designers, including the famous bird nest hat designed by Shaun Leane and Philip Treacy.
The structure of the show itself is unlike any other fashion exhibition we’ve seen, leading visitors through an enchanted forest exploring McQueen's gothic, primitivist, naturalist and futurist influences. Particularly note-worthy are the rarely seen sketches, previously hidden away in the McQueen archive. You’ll also be able to experience the innovative designer’s awe-inspiring catwalk shows from a series of screens, bringing to life the dynamic and theatrical performances of his label.
McQueen / Swarovski: sponsorship
Swarovski are the proud sponsors, the diamond company that has worked closely with McQueen since the 1990s when he helped re-launch the brand into the forefront of the fashion world, reinventing the way in which crystals were used in fashion. Teasers of this collaboration had us green with envy this morning with the display of a beautiful jacket, encrusted with sparkling embellishment.
Highlights: Alexander McQueen London
Particular highlights we can’t wait for include delicate gothic pieces influenced by Edgar Allan Poe and Tim Burton with a dash of Miss Havisham thrown in for good measure. Then there are influences from the animal world, primitivism and the fragility of nature, as well as echoes of McQueen’s own Scottish ancestry and references to the twilight years of the British Raj in ‘The Girl who Lived in the Tree’ (2008). Also look out for the entire room dedicated to the incredible Kate Moss moment in 2006 when the 'ghost' of the supermodel appeared on the catwalk thanks to 19th-century technology. The exhibition finishes on the high note of the ‘Plato’s Atlantis’ show of 2010, in which armadillo-shoed models stalked the catwalk dressed as members of a futuristic amphibious species.
However, as Wilcox explains, while ‘he absorbed influences and wore them lightly, the work was always McQueen’. So there’s a reason why this ‘homecoming’ show is being called the greatest ever fashion exhibition. From a gold horned headpiece donated by Givenchy to the sequinned top inlaid with the haunting image of the famous Romanov children, this exhibition triumphantly demonstrates McQueen’s raw energy and fearlessness.
Book tickets to Savage Beauty here
The exhibition will run from the 14 March - 19 July 2015