In two-words I can describe Savage Beauty exhibit @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art:
BREATHTAKING and CROWDED 😉
Breathtaking and crowded, indeed! Setting the record for the most-visited exhibit the Met has ever seen, Savage Beauty closed this past summer with an outstanding run (with people apparently even pushing visiting to the last day, waiting on line for 3 hours!!). Thank God I was able to visit early on when it first opened in late May!!
With the unfortunate passing of the late Alexander McQueen, came an incredible retrospect of his work at the annual Costume Institute’s display of his work. Although McQueen himself was young, he truly was quite the visionary and whether enticed by fashion or not in this lifetime, I think there was truly something about him that everyone truly could connect to.
Like I said, people visited this exhibit in the hundreds of THOUSANDS and even I got swallowed in the crowd at one point. Tourists and hipster-NYC-fashionista wannabes galore swamped the fantastic realm of McQueen’s work from ceiling to floor, wall-to-wall. Whether getting sideswiped by the young overseas student wanting something to gush about to her art class, or the fan who mourned his death by trying to learn more about who he really was, it was IMPOSSIBLE to WALK. You would inch yourself closer or further away in hopes of finding some breathing room. But when you did find room to look, think, and compose yourself, everything you saw was something to behold. You might not have understood some of it: the conventional vs. the unconventional, but like all art, it existed there plainly for one to take in.
For me and my friend who visited a wonderful day after work, for us this was a huge dosage of refreshment to the artist soul. Not only in seeing McQueen’s genius, but just how he struggled with producing absolutely intriguing work as any artist has. This is the factor which I find grabs my attention when visiting a retrospective most of all: the artist struggle. A visual sketch, a need to move forward or expand, or translate his big thoughts into something everyone could see, these are the things I found captured in everything on display. Who hasn’t struggled to visualize or think in their lifetime? McQueen certainly did. And the results were absolutely dramatic, stunning, theatrical, and a true definition of eclectic-fantastic.
He revealed much about his views in his work for sure, and one would definitely see this in the clothes he put on display: his Scottish heritage, Romanticism, a commentary on clothing of the Victorian era, etc. All of which he said was to use his clothing to empower women, challenging views of gender, race, nature, and identity. Every crazy detail down to the last bead, stitch, mother-of-pearl shine and feather (that was by far my favorite piece, a very intricate feather dress) he spoke every word painted right down to the last.
The work itself was inevitable to marvel at: enamel platform shoes (more widely known worn by Lady Gaga), and his inspiration drawn from different cultures. My favorite part of the exhibit was written on the wall, a poignant quote he said about his views of racism in fashion:
“I want to be honest about the world that we live in, and sometimes my political persuasions come through in my work. Fashion can be really racist, looking at the clothes of other cultures as costumes… That’s mundane and it’s old hat. Let’s break down some barriers” – McQueen.
I believe McQueen had the right ideas all along on how the artistry of this world is going to move forward. I’m only sorry he didn’t live on to continue his legacy, because we truly needed people like him to help push it forward.