By the time the V&A retrospective exhibition of the late Alexander McQueen opened in March, 70,000 tickets had already been sold. One of them to me. It was the best fashion retrospective I have ever seen; a tour de force. Do go if you can.
These shows tend to be hushed affairs reminiscent of worship but the show does reveal the real beauty, texture, imagination and workmanship of McQueen’s fashion narrative. Let’s presume you know the McQueen basic life story, rags to riches, toast of the fashion firmament, early death.
McQueen has become revered and his talent shaped what we wore from the mid-nineties onwards, and he has influenced a generation of designers. His tailoring was superb and his theatrical shows are highlighted in this exhibition, so even if one has never been to one we can catch a glimpse of how it was. I was lucky enough to see a few of his early shows but seeing his work in this exhibit all showcased together has been a revelation. I had seen none of the outfits or the accessories close to, and here we can really study them. We see how his work evolved and how, with the backing of LVMH, which commenced in 1996 when he became creative directory of Givenchy, he was able, with the funding, to translate his vision into art and beauty - the technical workmanship is breathtaking.
There has been some criticism that there is not enough information in the exhibition but the pieces are timeless and does it matter really what show each dress came from? And there is an excellent book that goes with the show, which has more than enough information.
McQueen took his audience into a dark world and he himself was haunted by personal demons. Thanks to this exhibition McQueen can now reach a wide audience and the enthusiasm this exhibition has generated shows he has a global following who want to share in the vibrant beauty of his designs, created throughout his short life. You will be truly stunned.
L to R: Jonathan Ackroyd, CEO of Alexander McQueen; Kim Winser OBE, Founder & CEO of Winser London; Clare Waight Keller, Creative Director of Chloé
Style Agenda by Vanessa de Lisle - www.thefashioncupboard.com