Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty – V&A

Savage Beauty

13th June 2015

The V&A always hosts fantastic exhibitions, actual value for money unlike many of the museums who seem to have some scam in paid for exhibitions; lacking content and allowing too many people per time slot preventing you from seeing the few items they do have on display. The V&A now has an extremely popular exhibition of Alexander McQueen’s creations, Savage Beauty. How apt that me and my little Savage should visit.

Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty

The exhibition prohibits photography and my descriptions won’t do it justice at all so best you get the few remaining tickets and take a look for yourself. It starts off slowly with some very early work of McQueen’s. He grew up in London and had a tough start to life, but leaving school took him on to his apprenticeship in a Saville Row tailors. This fundamental skill is apparent in the first display with some exceptionally accurate and sharp tailoring of jackets and trousers. Unusual shapes yet well structured and fitted. Stylish and practical, I could wear most of the outfits in the first room.

Continuing on to the next room, antique effect mirrors line the walls seemingly sucking in the limited light there is rather than reflecting. This sets off the gothic designs perfectly and adds a moody ambience. There are fabulous feathered dresses which look like they could come to life and bondage style leather outfits, less wearable for the average lady. The exhibition has made masks for each mannequin and these are quite gimp meets shrunken head in style. A gold, glass cabinet on one wall has some more traditional dresses, long flowing skirts and fitted jackets. Not only are the dresses amazing they are also accessorised with stunning footwear. Some of it doesn’t look the most practical but definitely makes me want to go to the new shoe exhibition at the V&A too.

The next room is like a cannibal’s cave dwelling. Floor to ceiling bones with alcoves lined in skulls, each highlighting one outfit. The design team have really gone to town with showing off the fashion in the most amazing ways. This setting really adds to the tribal designs and leather and hide fabrics in use. McQueen makes tailoring look simple, even unstructured, ripped fabric hangs perfectly on the mannequins.

The Widows of Culloden collection took McQueen back to his Scottish heritage. Lots of tartan and a very roman/regal feel to the dresses. On the right hand side there are a range of dresses that seem to have been made from the Queen’s ermine cape and a toga and on the left a variety of tartan pieces. All stylish and wearable, I particularly wanted the red and white feathered cocktail dress, fitted bodice and large skirt.

The next room gets pretty busy as there is so much to see. There are limited seats in the centre of the room which is ideal for a rest if you have a baby strapped to your front. At this point she was still sleeping soundly which was quite relieving in the macabre rooms. The Cabinet of Curiosities rooms has walls lined with boxed shelving, some housing dresses, some head pieces or other accessories and some with TV screens replaying the catwalk shows that showcased these items. Many of the exhibits are fetishist, lots of items which look more for torture than fashion. A number of hats are created by Philip Treacy who worked regularly with McQueen and is famous for many celebrity hats. Some items that caught my eye, more for the bizarre than desire to wear, were the top made of mussel shells and the butterfly headpiece.

This follows on to a hologram video of Kate Moss in a floaty McQueen dress. Quite ethereal with it’s dramatic musical soundtrack. The next door room, as Betty woke up, had dresses made from reconstructed kimonos. McQueen thought that fashion should not be cultural or stereotypical so using the kimono designs and fabric he constructed completely different shapes and tailoring creating a unique and unusual collection. On to a selection of dresses from different collections but all with a theme of nature running through them. Whole dresses made from flower heads. Very Alice in Wonderland in style.

Lastly we saw the Plato’s Atlantis collection, lots of sea creature prints and the armadillo boots, made famous by Lady Gaga, featured heavily. This was McQueen’s last completed collection before his death in 2010.

A thoroughly spectacular exhibition, even for those less interested in fashion. Many items of a weird nature to keep you intrigued and plenty for little ones to look at. Get along before it closes in August.

Baby friendly info:

The V&A has step free access to all floors.

The cafe has highchairs and there are many baby changing facilities around the museum.

You can take pushchairs into the exhibition which is all on one level, or leave in the buggy park next to the cloakroom.

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