McQueen – Moments of Genius

As Savage Beauty, the much anticipated exhibition of works by Alexander McQueen, will arrive in London this March we have for you our top four McQueen moments.

Lee Alexander McQueen, Lee to his friends and Alexander McQueen to his fans. We all have specific memories about him that will always stay in our minds.

Number four on our list of moments is back in 1999 when in his spring/summer ready-to-wear show two robots spray painted a white dress worn by a model revolving on the catwalk.

For the world it was a ground breaking moment in fashion as never before had a model become the art itself.
It paved the way for designers to bring technology and entertainment as a mainstay in shows. It makes you wonder how his imagination would have used holographic techniques and video mapping to present his concepts today.

Who can forget the shock of the ‘bumster’ trousers that rode so low one could see the top half the wearer’s derriere?
It comes in as our number three McQueen moment purely because this explicit idea became an ongoing trend through the nineties and noughties.

When it first appeared tabloids had a field day with the style that was reminiscent of a ‘builder’s bum’.
McQueen told David Bowie in a 1995 interview for Dazed and Confused that these cheeky trousers were his first professional design. They actually debuted in his first collection, which was a simple set of clothing rails at The Ritz in London.

His reason behind the super low cut was to elongate the silhouette and also to exaggerate what he believed was the most erotic part of a male or female’s body.
Our number two McQueen moment is not a design but something he admitted to that again made polite society recoil in shock.

He told the world that when he worked at a Savile Row tailor he sewed profanities into the lining of suits destined for Prince Charles.

All of a sudden designer fashion became rock and roll because this working class man – with a taxi driver father and science teacher for a mother – who wore baggy jeans and trainers yet made waves among high society, started to blur the lines of opportunity in the fashion industry between the rich and poor.

Fashion Week

Our last fashion moment is when McQueen must have had the likes of Manolo Blahnik shaking in his boots when McQueen put 12cm-heel ‘armadillo’ stilettos down the runway.

First seen in his Plato’s Atlantis show in 2010, the hoof-like shoe dwarfed the highest heel, even at a time when newspapers were publishing warning stories about how bad high heels were for the body. McQueen was a maverick, a rebel, an atheist and a royalist and Savage Beauty at the Victoria and Albert Museum from March 14 to July 19 will present 10 sections to showcase the dominant themes and concepts within his extraordinary body of work.

The sections are built around garments which span the breadth of McQueen’s womenswear collections, from his MA graduate collection in 1992 to autumn winter 2010 and McQueen’s final, unfinished collection.

The ‘London’ section, will focus on McQueen’s roots in the capital city and his early development as a designer.
Garments on display will demonstrate signature McQueen silhouettes – including that of the ‘bumster’ trousers – and highlight his innovative cutting techniques.

The interplay between dark and light will be explored in ‘Romantic Gothic’. McQueen’s frequent references to the Victorian Gothic tradition are particularly drawn out in this section and it will also include pieces from his final, unfinished collection.

‘Romantic Primitivism’ will explore McQueen’s fascination with the animal world, while his love of his Scottish heritage, ancestry and the colonial past will be explored within ‘Romantic Nationalism’.

The ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ will form the heart of the exhibition and will showcase more than 100 garments and accessories as well as film footage from McQueen’s many catwalk presentations.

The designer’s longstanding interest in eastern cultures will be examined in ‘Romantic Exoticism’, ‘Romantic Naturalism’ will represent McQueen’s lifelong passion for nature and his last fully realised collection, Plato’s Atlantis, will be the finale.

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