Friday, June 24, 2011

long live McQueen

S and I paid a visit to the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met when it opened earlier this spring and managed to get there before the long lines. That's not to say the exhibit wasn't mobbed; we could barely get close enough to the clothing to really see much of it, and it's tricky to visit a show like this with a 6-year-old who can't see over everyone and who would rather be eating lunch at the park. In any case, I'll happily brave the crowds to see the show several more times this summer. It's by far and away the most spectacular fashion exhibit I've ever seen. I think the word Sublime is the best description of McQueen's designs, and of the show itself.

If you aren't coming to New York this summer, you can get still get a taste of the show via this video tour. You won't see the details of the clothing and will miss some of my favorite pieces, but it will give you the general sense of the show, at least.

I first fell in love with McQueen's work when I was finishing up my degree at FIT. McQueen and I were the same age (he died on my birthday, incidentally, not long before his own birthday), but he was already producing his spectacular clothing and shows when I was just changing careers and starting to study traditional tailoring techniques. It was that spray-painted dress (if you haven't seen this video before, you must watch it!) in the spring/summer 1999 show which captured my full attention. After than I followed his career with fascination. I think he was one of the fashion geniuses of our century, really, and it's hard to imagine any designer not being influenced by his work and by this show. It's truly amazing on both counts.

We visited the gift shop on our way out of the museum and purchased the catalog from the show. So while S was running up and down a hill in Central Park I cracked open the book and was blown away a second time.

The photos in the catalog are, at first glance, simple compositions of McQueen's designs on mannequins. Except that you very quickly notice that these aren't ordinary mannequins. The poses aren't standard mannequin poses, and the hands are feet are eerily life-like.

Have you ever seen a mannequin stand like this?

That's because the mannequins are actually live models. The models wore white paint and bands around their shoulders and wrists where the joints on actual mannequins are located. Heads were replaced or removed in editing. The result is perfect--you're not distracted by a real person, but the pages are vibrant and exciting.

Classic McQueen.


  1. Wow, fascinating. Not being into fashion myself I'd never heard of him, but I love artists like that. Different and interesting and unique.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. Living in Scotland means i'll never get to see itso it's lovely to hear it described in such detail!

  3. Anonymous3:12 PM

    My Name is Silvana.
    Excellent!! I absolutely loved it! Thank You for sharing your story with us. I have many ideas in me, but I don't have enough courage to bring those out. I even made princess dresses for my daughter yours ago and I kept those until now....just couldn't give them up......Do you have any ideas for me???