Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty was first staged at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2011. Curated by Andrew Bolton, the exhibition attracted over 650,000 visitors in three months – a record for a fashion exhibition at the museum. In 2015 Savage Beauty went on display in London at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the first retrospective of Alexander McQueen’s work in Europe. Curated by Claire Wilcox and designed by Sam Gainsbury, the exhibition at the V&A was a home-coming for the London-born designer, and the largest showcase of McQueen’s work to date; featuring previously, garments and accessories that took in everything from his 1992 MA graduate collection to his unfinished Autumn/Winter 2010 collection, in a museum that was a source of inspiration for the designer.
“savage beauty is a celebration of the most imaginative and talented designer of our time. lee was a genius and a true visionary who pushed boundaries, challenged and inspired. he believed in creativity and innovation and his talent was limitless.” Sarah Burton
Lee Alexander McQueen was one of the most visionary designers of his generation. Having left school at the age of 16 to undertake an apprenticeship on London’s Savile Row, McQueen assisted the designers Koji Tatsuno and Romeo Gigli before graduating with a Masters degree in Fashion Design from Central Saint Martins in 1992. In the following years, McQueen gained the attention and respect of the fashion industry for the emotional power and raw energy of his presentations, and the romantic, but determinedly contemporary nature of his collections. He was appointed Chief Designer at Givenchy in 1996, a move which allowed him to combine his knowledge of bespoke British tailoring with the intricacies of traditional haute couture techniques. In 2000, the Gucci Croup acquired 51% of Alexander McQueen, where he remained Creative Director. Over the course of a 20-year career, McQueen received a number of awards, and in 2003, was appointed a Commander of the British Empire by the Queen. His imagination and unique approach to design have left an indelible imprint on the fashion world, and a legacy that continues to this day.
As a designer, Lee Alexander McQueen sought to imbue garments with a visceral, emotional intensity through merging the personal with the political, the organic with the modern, and the rigours of traditional tailoring techniques with the lightness of haute couture. As such, the world of Alexander McQueen is one defined by how the elements of fragility and strength, tradition and technology, severity and grace, contrast and complement each other to create a new vision for fashion in the 21st century. Savage Beauty is a showcase of the key themes and concepts that inspired and informed Alexander McQueen throughout his career: Romanticism, the Gothic, history, nature, anatomy, and the interplay between each in his search for the sublime.
“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” LEE ALEXANDER MCQUEEN
“I want to empower women. I want people to be afraid of the women I dress.”Lee McQueen