The Homecoming Of Lee McQueen: Inside The ‘Savage Beauty’ Exhibition At The V&A

The Homecoming Of Lee McQueen: Inside 'Savage Beauty'

McQueen, exhibition, savage beauty exhibition

by Emma Spedding |
Published on

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A has to be one of the most hotly-anticipated fashion exhibitions ever, breaking all of the museum's records for ticket sales.

Lee McQueen once said that he dreamed of spending a whole night trapped inside the V&A, and that is exactly how you feel upon entering the space. You could spend hours exploring the ten rooms which house 244 McQueen garments, spanning from his first 1992 MA collection to his final, unfinished A/W 2010 collection.

Lee McQueen guides you through the exhibition himself, as each section is introduced by his own words. His first quote sets out the over-riding sentiment of the exhibition - this is his homecoming. McQueen tells us "London is where I was brought up. It's where my heart is and where I get my inspiration."


"I want to be the purveyor of a certain silhouette or a way of cutting, so that when I'm dead and gone people will know that the twenty-first century was started by Alexander McQueen," Lee tells us. In the exhibition we follow this journey of Alexander McQueen defining and redefining how we see fashion in the twenty-first century.

The first room houses his earliest work (including the 'bumster' trousers), which was focused on cutting and construction thanks to his early training on Savile Row. 'Everything I do is based on tailoring,' he explains. Then we move into the 'Romantic Gothic' room where we see the influence of Victorian Gothic, with dramatic silhouettes, jet black beading, leather masks and black feathers.


We then journey into 'Romantic Primitivism' where we are introduced to his fascination with the animal world and the relationship between predator and prey. He begins using materials such as hair, skin and horns.

The next space 'Romantic Nationalism' is a loud explosion of red, touching on his fascination with Scottish heritage. Alongside the row of tartan garments from his Autumn/ Winter 2006 collection you'll find his words: "As a place for inspiration Britain is the best in the world. You're inspired by the anarchy in the country."

Past the billowing red dress from his Autumn Winter 2008 collection, you enter perhaps the most spectacular space - The Cabinet of Curiosities. Rotating in the centre is the white cotton dress which was spray-painted yellow and black in the Spring Summer 1999 show. This is surrounded by 120 garments and accessories, including magical hats created by Philip Treacy and a twinkling dress made of Swarovski crystals.


Then you come to the 3D holographic image of Kate Moss moving in a rippling organza gown which was shown in the finale of his 'Widows of Culloden' Autumn Winter 2006 catwalk show. This is the one thing in the exhibition which can't be photographed, which makes it all the more special to see in real life.

The final two rooms present Mcqueen's love of nature, closing with his last fully realised collection - Plato's Atlantis. The collection, which uses complex prints, was considered by many to be his greatest.

He explains the idea behind the collection as: "Plato's Atlantis predicted a future in which the ice cap would melt, the waters would rise and life on earth woul dhave to evolve in order to live beneath the sea once more or perish. Humanity would go back to the place from whence it came."


The exhibition is in partnership with Swarovski and Nadja Swarovski said of the collection: "We were priveleged to have collaborated creatively with McQueen since 1998 in both fashion and design, and Savage Beauty is an eleoquent tribute to the scale of his talent and to his limitless imagination."

Getting tickets to the 'Savage Beauty' exhibit might be the golden ticket of 2015, but it's certainly worth queueing for to enter Lee's world.


McQueen Savage Beauty

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GALLERY>> Inside 'Savage Beauty'

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