Alexander McQueen's fashion designs get artistic treatment at the Met

Late designer's work to be celebrated in major exhibition at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Great fashion design is equal in status to any form of artistic expression. That is the premise of an exhibition celebrating the designs of the late Alexander McQueen that opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in May.

A preview of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty has been unveiled at the Ritz by the twin fashion forces of Anna Wintour and Samantha Cameron, against the backdrop of London fashion week.

Thomas Campbell, the director of the Met, and Andrew Bolton, curator of its Costume Institute, praised the artistry of McQueen's work. "His work fits so easily within the discourse of art," said Campbell. "He can be considered no less than an artist whose medium of expression was fashion."

Bolton said: "His fashions were an outlet for his emotions, an expression of the deepest, often darkest, aspects of his imagination. He was a true romantic in the Byronic sense of the word – he channelled the sublime."

The exhibition will be arranged thematically rather than chronologically and will feature over 100 examples of work from the designer's 19-year career, from his 1994 Nihilism collection to his posthumous Angels & Demons collection shown last year.

It will begin with a gallery entitled The Savage Mind, which will examine his subversion of traditional tailoring, while other rooms will focus on his recurring fascination with Romantic literary traditions such as death, decay and darkness.

Other highlights will include the McQueen tartan from his Highland Rape collection and a mini projection of the infamous Kate Moss dancing hologram, which debuted after the model's cocaine scandal in 2006.

Stella McCartney, whose career has run almost in parallel to that of McQueen, and who will co-chair the exhibition, was at the launch. Sarah Burton, who worked alongside McQueen for 14 years and is now creative director at the label, was also present.

McQueen was found dead in his central London flat on February 11 last year. He had hanged himself. An inquest at the time found that he was struggling with depression and the death of his mother and the coroner ruled that he had "killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed..

The organisers of the exhibition said its swift timing enhanced its integrity. "Memories are so fresh," explained Bolton, who also noted that the archive was intact.

Campbell explained the location – the Ritz hotel was where McQueen first showed a rail of his creations to the press in a 1993 collection called Taxi Driver.

Cameron said she was "thrilled by this recognition of British fashion". The exhibition will runs from 4 May to 31 July with a gala launch on 2 May. "I'm sure that the party will be a very, very special night," she added.

London's hottest stars

Mary Katrantzou delivered a standout collection at London fashion week. The Greek-born designer showed a sculpted, couture-like silhouette with hyper-real prints of stunning interiors, pictured below. Last season she did lampshades and stately homes; this season it was shapes and prints that recalled Ming dynasty vases.

Marios Schwab's collection mixed sleek leather and wool dresses with brogue and buckle detailing and was much praised. He used pearl necklaces as part of his dresses' construction rather than as accessories.

Louise Gray's bonkers mix of dots, stripes, prints and checks demonstrated London at its playful best. Other designers being name-checked as ones to watch included Michael van der Ham and Christopher Raeburn. Van der Ham showed jewel-coloured crushed velvet dresses in his trademark luxe-patchwork. And Raeburn's pop-out parkas – two jackets cut to be worn together or separately – won a legion of industry admirers.


Imogen Fox

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Alexander McQueen exhibition becomes New York's latest blockbuster
British designer's show at Metropolitan Museum show attracts 661,409 visitors in just three months

Hadley Freeman in New York

09, Aug, 2011 @5:53 PM

Article image
Alexander McQueen's Savage Beauty show to come to London
Fashion designer's retrospective, the eighth most visited exhibition in Metropolitan Museum's 142-year history, to be at V&A in 2015

Mark Brown, arts correspondent

24, Apr, 2014 @9:30 PM

Article image
Alexander McQueen's Savage Beauty: the best-dressed haunted house you will ever visit

A record number of advance tickets have been sold for the V&A’s retrospective on the late designer’s work. It is a a brilliant and absorbing experience

Jess Cartner-Morley

12, Mar, 2015 @6:16 PM

Article image
Alexander McQueen’s menswear show is a thing of savage beauty
Military-style collection takes centre stage in London the same year that McQueen gets a retrospective at the V&A

Lauren Cochrane

11, Jan, 2015 @7:57 PM

Article image
‘The Hitchcock of fashion’: Met Gala to pay tribute to Karl Lagerfeld
Late creative director of Chanel, Chloé and Fendi to be focus of benefit and New York exhibition

Morwenna Ferrier

30, Sep, 2022 @10:08 AM

Article image
V&A to display its first African fashion exhibition
Galleries will showcase designers who are often overlooked, in an effort to acknowledge colonial histories within the museum

Lauren Cochrane

28, Jun, 2022 @5:00 AM

Alexander McQueen's death mourned by fashion world
Iconoclastic genius McQueen found dead at home nine days after death of his mother

Esther Addley

12, Feb, 2010 @12:24 AM

Article image
Met Gala 2022: politics rises to the surface on fashion’s biggest night
Celebration of American design themed ‘gilded glamour’ prompts slogans, homage and big dose of history

Edward Helmore

03, May, 2022 @2:46 AM

Article image
Punk fashion celebrated at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art
Organisers hope exhibition of punk fashion at the Costume Institute has the power to shock – and draw the crowds

Jess Cartner-Morley in New York

11, Feb, 2013 @7:42 PM

Article image
Sarah Burton named as Alexander McQueen's successor
Fashion group Gucci appoints late designer's longtime colleague to take over where he left off and expand offering

Imogen Fox

27, May, 2010 @2:46 PM