The V&A Museum presents the only major retrospective in Europe of the work of the visionary fashion designer Alexander McQueen. One of the most innovative designers of his generation, McQueen was celebrated for his extraordinary creative talent. He combined a profound grasp of tailoring and eclectic range of influences with a relentless pursuit to challenge the boundaries of art and fashion, blending the latest technology with traditional craftsmanship.


Originated by the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Savage Beauty has been edited and expanded for the V&A’s large exhibition galleries. It features 66 additional garments and accessories, including some rare early pieces, lent by private individuals and collectors such as Katy England and Annabelle Neilson as well as pieces from the Isabella Blow Collection and the House of Givenchy. A new section has been added to the exhibition, focusing on McQueen’s early London collections. Other new garments displayed include a red ballet dress from The Girl Who Lived in the Tree (A/W 2008) and a white feathered dress from The Horn of Plenty (A/W 2009).


Each section captures the essence of McQueen’s provocative, dramatic and extravagant catwalk presentations, through installation, music and film. For example, a dedicated gallery is used to recreate the spectacular moment where Kate Moss appeared in a gown of rippling organza as a holographic 3D image, or Pepper’s Ghost, for the finale of the Widows of Culloden (A/W 2006) catwalk show.


Another feature of the exhibition that has been expanded at the V&A is the Cabinet of Curiosities. Presented in a double-height gallery, interspersed with film footage of nearly all of McQueen’s catwalk shows, it showcases designs produced by McQueen in collaboration with fellow creatives such as the milliner Philip Treacy and the jeweller Shaun Leane.


In total, the exhibition includes more than 240 ensembles and accessories, the largest number of individual pieces designed by McQueen and collaborators ever seen together. They range from McQueen’s Central Saint Martins’ postgraduate collection of 1992 to his final designs for A/W 2010, completed after his death, and are drawn primarily from the Alexander McQueen archive in London.


The thematic presentation of the exhibition reflects McQueen’s Romantic sensibility and interrogates ideas and concepts central to his work, including: his subversive tailoring; his Gothic sensibility; primitivism and the animal world; heritage and ancestry; nature and the natural world; and technology and handcraft. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty will run until 2 August, 2015.

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all images © V&A MUSEUM