Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Widows of Culloden, autumn/winter 2006-2007

Spine, spring/summer 1998

VOSS, spring/summer 2001

 Widows of Culloden, 2006-2007

 It’s a Jungle Out There, autumn/winter 1997-1998

The Horn of Plenty, autumn/winter 2009-2010      

autumn/winter 2010-2011

I got the chance to see the Savage Beauty exhibition in New York. It was shortly after I had reconnected with my own inner animality, and that made several of the pieces particularly striking to me. The mood throughout the exhibition was a huge part of what we were seeing: the pieces were so heavily imbued with the romantic, the gothic, the savage, with a sense of naturalism and rawness to many of the impeccably crafted dresses, jackets, accessories, and ensembles. It is that mood that is emphasized in the official texts about this work, in the exhibition catalog and on its website.

I couldn’t help but be drawn to the subtle ways in which McQueen brought the aesthetic and the mood of the animal to the human body, while implying that in any one of these pieces, the human was also taking on something of the animal. There were several gallery texts available quoting Alexander McQueen, which I’ve later found in the exhibition catalog, that confirmed to me that these subtle yet striking comparisons were deliberate:

“I have always loved the mechanics of nature and to a greater or lesser extent my work is always informed by that.”
“Animals… fascinate me because you can find a force, an energy, that also exists in sex.”

In reference to It’s a Jungle Out There:

“The whole show feeling was about the Thomson’s gazelle. It’s a poor little critter – the markings are lovely, it’s got these dark eyes, the white and black with the tan markings on the side, the horns – but it is the food chain of Africa. As soon as it’s born it’s dead, I mean you’re lucky if it lasts a few months, and that’s how I see human life, in the same way. You know, we can all be discarded quite easily… You’re there, you’re gone, it’s a jungle out there!”

 

“Birds in flight fascinate me. I admire eagles and falcons. I’m inspired by a feather but also its color, its graphics its weightlessness and its engineering. It’s so elaborate. In fact I try and transpose the beauty of a bird to women.”

 

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