Goth meets horror, punk, Romanticism and sci-fi in the genius design imagination of Alexander McQueen, the British enfant terrible fashion designer whose 2010 suicide saddened and stunned those who’d been touched by his visionary designs. Supermodels, musicians and film stars all came out to honor the designer the night of March 12 at a gala party for a retrospective of his work, “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,” at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The museum is presenting the largest retrospective in Europe of McQueen’s work, ranging from his 1992 MA graduate collection to his unfinished autumn/winter 2010 collection. The original “Savage Beauty” retrospective was staged at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2011. Organized by the Costume Institute, it became one of that museum’s top 10 most visited exhibitions.
McQueen’s work wasn’t without controversy. Critics accused the designer of misogyny. Early in his career, a show called “Highland Rape” featured women in tattered clothes staggering down the runway. And he often sent models down the runway in shoes so treacherously high they hobbled and tumbled over in numbers higher than usual.
The appearance of celebrities at the “Savage Beauty” gala -- particularly Victoria Beckham -- is ironic, given his indifference to, if not disdain for, celebrities. He attempted to ban Beckham from wearing his designs, and his former lover, fashion stylist Archie Reed, said, “No matter how famous he was, he always used to say that celebrity and celebrities didn’t matter to him at all.”
McQueen’s dark and beautiful visions will be displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum from March 14 to Aug. 2.