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Savage Beauty at the V&A

— by Alyson Walsh

 

Call me a Fashion Philistine, but having been a teenage goth by the time the nineties came around I was totally over my Macabre Period. Hence I didn’t really buy into Sensation-era Damien Hirst and Alexander McQueen at his most gory. What I love about a good exhibition is it has the ability to change your preconceptions and opinion, and Savage Beauty at the V&A did just that. This is a wonderful celebration of McQueen’s work, beautifully curated (apart from one section with skulls that looked a bit like a catacomb I once visited in Palermo). The exhibition also served to reinforce what I’d always admired about McQueen: his Savile Row-with-a-twist tailoring, the brilliant cultural/historical/natural references pulled into his work, the anarchic creativity and most of all, his honesty (McQueen claimed to have sewn his opinion of Prince Charles into the lining of a Royal suit).

Philip Treacy butterfly headdress
Razor Clam dress
Dyed ostrich feather dress

 

Kate Moss in the 2001 Voss show

And I still believe that Spray Painting with Shalom Harlow is the best catwalk show, ever. The dress from the 1999 performance is on show in the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ room:

 

 

One of my favourite sections is the display of McQueen’s tailored jackets:

 

And the Bumster trousers whose length feels au courant:

‘It’s a good testament for people like myself who come from working-class backgrounds that it can be done, that you can do what you really want to do in life, everything is possible.’
Alexander McQueen

This kind of creative talent deserves to be treasured.

If you can get hold of a ticket, Savage Beauty is absolutely fantastic: on at the V&A until 2 August 2015. If you can’t buy the book, it’s brilliant.

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  Call me a Fashion Philistine, but having been a teenage goth by the time the nineties came around I was totally over my Macabre Period. Hence I didn’t really buy into Sensation-era Damien…