{iStyle} McQueen’s Legacy To Be Celebrated Through Met Exhibit

By: Kelly Ahern, guest blogger

This spring fashion admirers will be treated to an exhibit of epic proportions.

The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art will honor the memory and eclectic vision of the late designer Alexander McQueen through a retrospective showcase.

The 100-piece exhibit, scheduled to open May 4, 2010, will highlight McQueen’s extensive and outstanding career; including styles from his postgraduate student days, his tenure at Givenchy, and even items from the collection presented after his unexpected suicide last February.

The exhibition begins two days after the Costume Institute Gala Benefit which will include Honorary Chairs François-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek, as well as Co-Chairs will be Colin Firth, Stella McCartney, and Anna Wintour.

With such a fashion-forward panel one can expect an endless amount of McQueen.

Alexander McQueen SS 1994

Signature items, including his infamous “bumster” trouser and kimono jacket, will be included along with items from the McQueen and Givenchy corporate archives and his private personal collection.

A recent press release described that the retrospective exhibit will even be categorized, featuring specific McQueen themes and concepts.

The Savage Mind will examine McQueen’s subversion of traditional tailoring and dressmaking practices through a combination of displacement and deconstruction.

Romantic Gothic will highlight McQueen’s narrative approach to fashion, showcasing his unique talent to convey Romantic literary traditions such as death, decay, and darkness.

This is also where McQueen’s main characters will become evident and more pronounced; he frequently included femme fatales and anti-heroes, such as pirates as he used fashion design to tell a story.

Alexander McQueen "Widows of Culloden" AW 2009

Romantic Nationalism will take a closer look at McQueen’s fascination with the history and the “distant past”.

Romantic Exoticism will examine the designer’s focus and penchant for distant, faraway places.

From McQueen's last show SS 2010

Lastly, and probably the most anticipated, Romantic Primitivism will explore McQueen’s engagement with the idea of the “noble savage”.

The exhibit will be much more than mannequins and haute couture– it truly will embody all that is McQueen, honoring him for the creative genius, and fashion risk taker, that he was.

According to a post by Dhani Mau, for Fashionista ,

“there will also be an assortment of ‘atavistic and fetishized objects’ including collaborations with Philip Treacy and Shaun Leane on display in a ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. Another room will show videos of McQueen’s runway presentations”.

Alexander McQueen SS 2007; The Museum at FIT

Mau continues to explain the exciting details, writing that,

“Costume Institute curators Andrew Bolton and Harold Koda are also putting together a book to accompany the exhibition. It will feature a thematic overview of McQueen’s career as well as an interview with McQueen’s creative director Sarah Burton. The book will be printed in a special edition with 250 illustrations and published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art”.

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen SS 1999

Alexander McQueen was best known for his astonishing and extravagant runway presentations, which were given dramatic scenarios and narrative structures that suggested avant-garde installation and performance art,” curator Andrew Bolton said in a statement. He was a true romantic in the Byronic sense of the word — he channeled the sublime”.

Alexander McQueen AW 2007; The Museum at FIT

— McQueen was born in March of 1969.

Best known for his intense knowledge of classic British tailoring, his ability to juxtapose female strength, sexuality and fragility within collections, and for the raw, striking energy of his runway shows, his talents far surpass any expectations.

Not only was he at one point the chief designer for the French fashion house, Givenchy, but he truly founded his style and personal brand under his own iconic label. His achievements within the competitive fashion industry earned him four British Designer of the Year awards as well as the prestigious CFDA‘s International Designer of the Year award in 2003.

McQueen with the CBE he received from Queen Elizabeth II; 2003

The exhibition, entitled Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, will be on view from May 4 through July 31, 2011 and certainly will be one that no fashion connoisseur will want to miss.


Kelly Ahern is a recent Roger Williams Univeristy graduate living in New England. Graduating with a degree in Communications-Public Relations and a Core Concentration in Italian, Ahern is an aspiring PR professional who loves social networking, fashion and traveling. Currently she is a Social Media Architect for a Rhode Island-based digital marketing firm. You can find her on Twitter @Kelly_Ahern.

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