That’s the title of the Alexander McQueen exhibition to be held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
The exhibition opens tomorrow the 4th of May until July 31st.
According to the museum’s blog:
The exhibition, organized by The Costume Institute, will celebrate the late Alexander McQueen’s extraordinary contributions to fashion. From his Central Saint Martins postgraduate collection of 1992 to his final runway presentation, which took place after his death in February 2010.
Mr. McQueen challenged and expanded the understanding of fashion beyond utility to a conceptual expression of culture, politics, and identity. His iconic designs constitute the work of an artist whose medium of expression was fashion.
The exhibition will feature approximately one hundred ensembles and seventy accessories from Mr. McQueen’s prolific nineteen-year career. Drawn primarily from the Alexander McQueen Archive in London, with some pieces from the Givenchy Archive in Paris as well as private collections, signature designs including the “bumster” trouser, the kimono jacket, and the three-point “origami” frock coat will be on view. McQueen’s fashions often referenced the exaggerated silhouettes of the 1860s, 1880s, 1890s, and 1950s, but his technical ingenuity always imbued his designs with an innovative sensibility that kept him at the vanguard.
The exhibition is organized by Andrew Bolton, curator, with the support of Harold Koda, curator in charge, both of The Costume Institute. Sam Gainsbury and Joseph Bennett, the production designers for Alexander McQueen’s fashion shows, will serve as the exhibition’s creative director and production designer, respectively. All head treatments and masks will be designed by Guido.
The Romantic Mind
McQueen doggedly promoted freedom of thought and expression and championed the authority of the imagination. In so doing, he was an exemplar of the Romantic individual, the hero-artist who staunchly follows the dictates of his inspiration.
“What I am trying to bring to fashion is a sort of originality,” he said. McQueen expressed this originality most fundamentally through his methods of cutting and construction, which were both innovative and revolutionary.
This technical ingenuity was apparent as early as his graduation collection from the Fashion Design MA course at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. Entitled Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims (1992), it introduced such iconic designs as the three-point “origami” frockcoat. In his first collection after graduating, entitled Taxi Driver (autumn/winter 1993–94), McQueen launched his “bumsters,” pants that sat so low on the hips that they revealed the buttocks. Indeed, McQueen was such a confident designer that his forms and silhouettes, such as the “bumster,” were established from his earliest collections and remained relatively consistent throughout his career. Referring to his early training on Savile Row in London, he said, “Everything I do is based on tailoring.” McQueen’s approach to fashion, however, combined the precision and traditions of tailoring and patternmaking with the spontaneity and improvisations of draping and dressmaking—an approach that became more refined after his tenure as creative director of Givenchy in Paris from 1996 to 2001. It is this approach, at once rigorous and impulsive, disciplined and unconstrained, that underlies McQueen’s singularity and inimitability.
Pink silk satin printed in thorn pattern lined in white silk with encapsulated human hair
“The inspiration behind the hair came from Victorian times when prostitutes would sell theirs for kits of hair locks, which were bought by people to give to their lovers. I used it as my signature label with locks of hair in Perspex. In the early collections, it was my own hair.” -Alexander McQueen-
“Bumster” Skirt Highland Rape, autumn/winter 1995–96
Black silk taffeta
Plato’s Atlantis Dress
Sarah Burton: He was interested in this concept of hybrid. With those tailored pieces, specifically; they had tailored arms, but the body was jersey. So there’s this weird sort of hybrid and juxtapositioning of different fabrics and how would they react together.
Gray wool and silk/synthetic knit printed in jellyfish pattern
“When you see a woman wearing McQueen, there’s a certain hardness to the clothes that makes her look powerful. It kind of fends people off.”
Jacket Joan, autumn/winter 1998–99
It’s a Jungle Out There, autumn/winter 1997–98
Silk/cotton twill printed in Hieronymus Bosch pattern
“I spent a long time learning how to construct clothes, which is important to do before you can deconstruct them.”
Dante, autumn/winter 1996–97
Romantic Gothic and Cabinet of Curiosities
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, autumn/winter 2002–3
Coat of black parachute silk; trouser of black synthetic; hat of black silk satin
Hat by Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen
Dress and glove of printed silk satin; underskirt of duck feathers painted gold
Sarah Burton: It was very much inspired by handcraft and the idea that in a way in our culture there’s the loss of the artisan, the loss of people doing things with their hands and making beautiful artisanal clothing or carvings or paintings or sculpture.
The Horn of Plenty Dress, autumn/winter 2009–10
Black duck feathers
Feathers play such an important role in McQueen’s work. He loved birds. And feathers was a material that he would revisit again and again in his work.
Ensemble: House of Givenchy Haute Couture
Eclect Dissect, autumn/winter 1997–98
Untitled, spring/summer 1998
Aluminum and black leather
Shaun Leane: The “Coiled” Corset was a particularly amazing piece because I had to cast the model’s torso in concrete to get an exact form of her, and then I had to literally form every coil, one by one, front and back, and work all the way up, so that it was a perfect fit. And she’s actually placed into the corset, and then it’s screwed all along the side, and up the arms, and beside the neck. There are tiny, little bolts, so the model’s actually screwed into the piece.
The Hunger, spring/summer 1996
Silver wool/synthetic with red silk faille lining; bodice of molded plastic encasing worms; skirt of red silk faille with silver antlers
Antlers by Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen
“It’s the ugly things I notice more, because other people tend to ignore the ugly things.”
It’s Only a Game, spring/summer 2005
Lilac leather and horsehair
Naomi Campbell: He knew exactly what he wanted, and he knew exactly what he saw didn’t look right on you, and what he wanted on you. So fittings were very . . . they weren’t long and exhausting at all. They were quick. I love when someone just knows and tells you from A to Z exactly what they want. I love that.
No. 13, spring/summer 1999
White cotton muslin spray-painted black and yellow with underskirt of white synthetic tulle
Shalom Harlow: I walked right up to it and stood on top of this circular platform. And as soon as I gained my footing, the circular platform started a slow, steady rotation. And it was almost like the mechanical robots were stretching and moving their parts after an extended period of slumber. And as they sort of gained consciousness, they recognized that there was another presence amongst them, and that was myself.
And at some point, the curiosity switched, and it became slightly more aggressive and frenetic and engaged on their part. And an agenda became solidified somehow. And my relationship with them shifted at that moment because I started to lose control over my own experience, and they were taking over. So they began to spray and paint and create this futuristic design on this very simple dress.
And when they were finished, they sort of receded and I walked, almost staggered, up to the audience and splayed myself in front of them with complete abandon and surrender.
For a fullview of the collection go to http://blog.metmuseum.org/alexandermcqueen/about/