A holographic Kate Moss in a glass pyramid and a cabinet of curiosities – the retrospective is almost here, and it's set to be a sell-out
Savage Beauty, the Alexander McQueen retrospective that wowed New York in 2011 is finally almost here. The exhibition will open in March 2015 at the V&A, marking the fifth anniversary of the legendary designer’s death, but most importantly it's a wonderful celebration of his life and work. His reputation is renowned, but what made McQueen such a visionary?
“Oh so many things,” sighed Claire Wilcox – the exhibition's curator and the V&A’s senior curator of fashion said at today's press briefing. “I think ‘visionary’ is a term that should be applied sparingly, but for McQueen I have absolutely no hesitation. He brought all the skills of traditional tailoring and couture quality dressmaking, and fused them with a personal narrative which gave his work great meaning. And he worked so hard. Every collection.” We couldn't agree more. And by the look of things, Savage Beauty is set to be a fitting tribute to the late, great provocateur.
To tide you over until the doors open, here are five things to expect from the show:
BIGGER AND BETTER
Savage Beauty was a sellout at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when it ran in 2011, drawing over 660,000 visitors. In the words of the V&A's Director Martin Roth, the London exhibition marks a 'homecoming' for the work of the designer who was born and raised here, and the scale of the exhibition relfects this – it's a third larger than when it showed in New York. There are over 200 garments and accessories scheduled for display, with 40 new additions – including loans from the Isabella Blow foundation and Givenchy.
BOOK – OR FACE BOWIE QUEUES
According to Roth, 16,000 people have already purchased tickets – and they are expecting it to be just as popular as last year's record-breaking David Bowie retrospective, attended by a massive 310,000. Book now to avoid the infamous queues that snaked out the door for last year.
RARE EARLY WORK
The exhibition provides a rare chance to see some of McQueen's hard to find early work, which will be on display. These pieces from the early 1990s – including his 1992 graduate collection ‘Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims’, infamously snapped up by the late isabella Blow, an early champion – are incredibly rare. "He absorbed so many influences, in any one collection there were hundreds of ideas, hundreds of influences, all brought together," said Wilcox, and this is even true of his earliest work – like his Hitchcock-inspired SS95 collection 'The Birds', pieces of which will be featured.
A HOLOGRAPHIC KATE MOSS
The Kate Moss hologram which marked the spectacular finale of his AW06 collection (and was one of Savage Beauty's NY highlights) will be recreated in its own dedicated room. Created using a nineteenth century technique called Pepper’s Ghost – invented for a Charles Dickens play by John Henry Pepper, the apparition of an ethereal Moss, dancing in swirling chiffon inside a glass pyramid, remains to be one of the most breathtaking and iconic moments in fashion show history.
CABINET OF CURIOSITIES
This installation forms the heart of the exhibition, and is filled with treasures created over McQueen’s career. The inimitable bird nest hats designed in partnership with Swarovski – collaborators with McQueen since the late 1990s – from AW06’s 'Widows of Culloden' collection will feature alongside an incredible, and incredibly inventive range of shoes and accessories. Expect jawbone jewellery, a butterfly headdress designed with Philip Treacy for SS08 and a crown of thorns.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, in partnership with Swarovski, supported by American Express, and made possible with the co-operation of Alexander McQueen, runs from 14 March – 19 July 2015. www.vam.ac.uk/savagebeauty