Could the V&A’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Glory, be the most popular fashion exhibition of all time?
With 83,910 tickets sold before the doors opened to the public on 14 March, it has far outstripped any other V&A exhibition, including David Bowie (67,000 pre-sold tickets) and three times the advance sales of any other at the museum. It's the Museum's most visited show in a decade. No wonder. It is a record-breaking tribute to a prodigy whose talent went way beyond fashion or art. And this is what the exhibition captures – the most awe-inspiring demonstration of human endeavour. Its sheer scale, coupled with the nature of the work itself – both savage and romantic, rich in history, fantasy and ingenuity – and its eerie V&A setting takes the viewer on a magical journey into the heart and mind of the late Alexander McQueen.
(Portrait of Alexander McQueen, 1997. Photographed by Marc Hom (c) Marc Hom / Trunk Archive)
Don't miss this must-see exhibition. The 'sell out' show has been extended until 2 August 2015 with additional around the clock slots available for the final two weekends, for the first time in the Museum's history; .
1) The London gallery.
The first of the galleries plunges you straight into the kind of sinister atmosphere with which McQueen made his mark. It focuses on the designer’s early work, his first collections shown in Manchester with a grainy black and white film of the shows of that era and the voice of the rebel-rousing designer talking about his work.
‘I THINK THERE IS BEAUTY IN EVERYTHING. WHAT "NORMAL" PEOPLE WOULD PERCEIVE AS UGLY, I CAN USUALLY SEE SOMETHING OF BEAUTY IN IT.’
2) Romantic Gothic gallery.
This takes in the rich glory of his later work, the couture-level craftsmanship housed in a golden box.
‘I WANT TO EMPOWER WOMEN. I WANT PEOPLE TO BE AFRAID OF THE WOMEN I DRESS.’
3) The spray-painted dress.
No 13, s/s 1999 – must be one of McQueen’s greatest early shows, featuring the model Shalom Harlow being spray-painted by futuristic car robots as she turned on a revolving floor.
‘GIVE ME TIME AND I’LL GIVE YOU A REVOLUTION.’
4) Romantic Primitivism gallery.
Housed in an installation of bones and skulls, these pieces demonstrate McQueen’s obsession with historical content and the macabre.
‘YOU’VE GOT TO KNOW THE RULES TO BREAK THEM. THAT’S WHAT I’M HERE FOR, TO DEMOLISH THE RULES BUT TO KEEP THE TRADITION.’
5) Cabinet of Curiosities gallery.
The most sumptuous and awe-inspiring room in the exhibition relays catwalk shows on video screens and houses everything from headdresses of butterflies and feathers, to a corset of coiled rings.
‘I GET MY IDEAS OUT OF MY DREAMS… IF YOU’RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO USE SOMETHING YOU SEE IN A DREAM, IT IS PURELY ORIGINAL. IT’S NOT IN THE WORLD – IT’S IN YOUR HEAD. I THINK THAT IS AMAZING.’
6) Romantic Naturalism gallery.
Here, the romantic side of McQueen is felt in full force, from the gown bursting with blooms to the tulle and lace dress with veil and antlers from the Widows of Culloden a/w 2006 show.
‘OF COURSE I MAKE MISTAKES. I’M HUMAN. IF I DIDN’T MAKE MISTAKES I’D NEVER LEARN. YOU CAN ONLY GO FORWARD BY MAKING MISTAKES.’
7) Plato's Atlantis gallery.
This room takes you deep inside the imagination of McQueen with his collection Plato's Atlantis s/s 2010, ‘jellyfish’ ensembles and ‘armadillo’ shoes.
‘THERE COMES A TIME IN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU FOCUS ON WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS RIGHT, REGARDLESS OF WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE IS DOING.’
8) Installation of Voss.
Possibly the most memorable of the early McQueen show installations (s/s 2001) where models were trapped in a glass box – a padded cell – wearing the world’s grandest ball gowns.
‘FASHION SHOULD BE A FORM OF ESCAPISM, AND NOT A FORM OF IMPRISONMENT.’
9) Romantic Exoticism gallery
Otherworldly meets Orientalism in this mirrored room where ideas and couture craft are refracted like a kaleidoscope.
‘THERE IS NO BETTER DESIGNER THAN NATURE.’
10) The Kate hologram.
In what was then – and still is now – a feat of the utmost technical engineering, Kate Moss hovers in mid-air, swirling and twisting, as seen in McQueen’s Widows of Culloden a/w 2006.
‘I’M 40 NOW, BUT I WANT THIS TO BE A COMPANY THAT LIVES WAY BEYOND ME. WHEN I’M DEAD, HOPEFULLY THIS HOUSE WILL STILL BE GOING. ON A SPACESHIP. HOPPING UP AND DOWN ABOVE THE EARTH.’