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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

1969-2010

The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 May 4, 2011 to July 31, 2011

Honorary Chairs of The Metropolitan Museum's Spring Benefit Gala on May 2 are Francois Henri Pinault and Salma Hayak, and Co-Chairs are Colin Firth, Stella McCartney and Anna Wintour

McQueen feathers

Dress, Autumn/Winter 2010, by Alexander McQueen, Photo Solve Sandsbo, Art + Commerce, courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art

By Michele Leight

Painting thousands of duck feathers gold and fashioning them into a sculpted jacket is - arguably - art, or sculpture. The sumptuous "duck feather" jacket and the gorgeous gowns illustrated here are examples of the imagination and artistry of the late Alexander McQueen, a designer who tipped the scales of haute couture unapologetically into the realm of "high art." The feather jacket is one of many creations by the designer that drew their inspiration from nature, and this is just a sneak peak at some of the gowns that will be included in the spring 2011 Costume Institute exhibition "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, on view from May 4th-July 31st.

Sadly, Alexander McQueen took his own life in 2010, which is a great loss to the world of art and fashion. He was a true "artist designer" who never sold out on his vision, and created some of the most memorable ensembles the world of fashion has ever seen.

McQueen oyster

Dress, "Irere," by Alexander McQueen, spring 2003, Photo Solve Sundsbo/ Art + Commerce, Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The "Oyster Dress" or "Irere," illustrated above, was reviewed and illustrated in the "Style" section of this site in 2003, when it was featured in the exhibition "Goddess," at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it was described as "a disaster at sea" and that "the sand-colored organza recalls the mille feuille ridging on the surface of a shell," like a pearl "encased in a deconstructing oyster." 

McQueen chiffon

Dress, Autumn/Winter 2010, by Alexander McQueen; Photo Solve Sandsbo, Art + Commerce, courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art

The crimped ridges and oceanic swirls re-emerge transformed in the photograph above, unleashed from all constraints in swirls of chiffon, evoking all things natural, ephemeral, and fleeting - like butterflies, clouds, and the delicately veined petals of roses.

McQueen Sarabande

Dress, "Sarabande," by Alexander McQueen, spring/summer 2007, Photo Solve Sandsbo, Art + Commerce, courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art

A contemporary ode to spring that conjures up images of Shakespearean dramas such as "As You Like It," the fantastic gown illustrated above, entitled "Sarabande," is as romantic as it gets. 

Like artists and sculptors, McQueen gave his gowns "titles." They were never presented as mere flotsam and jetsum.

The exhibition will be preceded by the Museum's well known Spring Benefit Gala on May 2, 2011. Proceeds from the gala benefit The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Honorary Chairs of the benefit are Francois Henri Pinault and Salma Hayak, and the Co-Chairs are Colin Firth, Stella McCartney and Anna Wintour.

"Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" is organized by Andrew Bolton, and sponsored by Alexander McQueen, with additional support from Conde Nast and American Express.

The images shown here are by Solve Sandsbo, from the exhibition catalogue "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty," published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and may not be reproduced. A review of the exhibition will follow.

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