Review of the McQueen retrospective at the V&A: Savage Beauty

This stunning fascinator can be seen in the Cabinet of Curiosities the climax of this stunning exhibition Image is Not Minen

This stunning fascinator can be seen in the Cabinet of Curiosities the climax of this stunning exhibition Image is Not Mine

How fast have 5 years gone? Mental illness and suicide are both subjects very close to my heart and a theme I have returned to some of my earlier posts on Sylvia Plath and Vincent Van Gogh. I have also discovered that some of the most beautiful creations have emerged from those who suffer with mental illness and 2 men who spring to mind are Richard Dadd and Pugin. And although McQueen is a 21st century troubled genius I feel he qualifies to be added to those greats.

Firstly Art fund card holders you get a discount for the exhibition. I have to say that I went in the evening when the rest of the museum was closed and for a blockbuster show like this it is the only way to do this especially over a weekend. A quick note about the gift shop its good but due to the luxury brand of McQueen its not cheap – I had to for myself not to extract the credit card for one of the beautiful scarves. There was only one room that was very busy and the rest of the exhibition was easy to move around. I may be wrong but I don’t think that there were audio guides I did not see anyone with one and in fact they would have been useless as the show had catwalk show music playing in the rooms. You felt as if you were entering Paris Fashion week each room a different feel and theme. This was a show for the senses not for academic information.

The first section is full of exquisite tailoring in McQueen’s own words “you need to know the rules to break them” (or along those words). The women suits were exquisitely executed being both masculine and feminine at the same time. Even in these early pieces it is clear that McQueen had an appreciation for the female form, by it as if he appreciates the beauty and wants to highlight.

One of my favourite rooms had a venetian carnival clothes that could have step out of 16th Century Venice. The shoes, masks and gowns were updated with tailoring, materials and flare. But could easily have been worn by Casanova or one of his conquests in Venice.

A gold lied room with some of the most sparkling red gowns I have ever seen. This was one of my favourite rooms. It was a cross between the wizard of Oz and a fantasy Harrod’s window.

A small room with catacomb style plaster of Paris skulls and crossbones held more goth punky attire. for me the cow hide boots with the toes cut out were rather yummy and would have loved to own a pair”

This room was Amazing a true mecca for those who worship fashion. Ceiling to floor with Iconic McQueen pieces. Image in NOT MINE

This room was Amazing a true mecca for those who worship fashion. Ceiling to floor with Iconic McQueen pieces. Image in NOT MINE

The climax of the show for me was the Cabinet of curiosities, just like the Medici had shelves with skulls, rocks, art and antiquities, this room held many of McQueens iconic pieces including the Butterfly facilitator and the controversial silver crown of thrones (which I found very beautiful). I felt like Alice in wonder land everywhere you looked there were wall to ceiling this was the only room I felt crowded in the rest of the rooms were fluid in flow. However there are seats and its worth moving round the room slowly seeking out all the treasures.

You move through a room with which has a box, like a window with 4 mannequins in it, brightly lit and then a video plays in the background and then it goes black its errie and creepy. the hole exhibition is a show in the full sense of the word.

There were so many beautiful and Iconic things in the exquisite things it was a beautiful tribute to a talent lost too soon, a timely reminder that Mental illness and depression can happen and effect those from all walks of life and that from such minds such beautiful minds beautiful things can be imaged and created through some of the darkest most painful times.

McQueen is on at the V&A until 2nd of August 2015 via the V&A website

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