For as much as he was embraced by celebrities, the media and the fashion community, Alexander McQueen never seemed to truly enjoy his success. Battling weight issues, drug addiction and depression throughout his 40 years, he ultimately took his own life in 2010. The great gay designer may be gone, but his spirit lives on in his work. Running at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art through August 7, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty displays many of the troubled artist’s iconic designs, as well as accessories (armor, headdresses, those infamous “lobster” shoes) he commissioned and stunning short films (like “Irere”) he art directed.
The sizeable show features McQueen’s last fully realized line, Plato’s Atlantis, as well as a posthumous collection, Angels and Demons. Though his choice of cuts and fabrics display a fascination with nature, electronic music, video and technology are incorporated in many of his runway shows, as they are here. One clip depicts a model on a rotating platform being spray-painted by robotic arms, creating a chaotic yet beautiful garment on display beneath the screen. One of the show’s most buzzworthy sections is a hologram that was the finale of his Widows of Culloden collection, featuring the image of Kate Moss swirling in dozens layers of diaphanous silk organza. (The dress itself is on display nearby.)
Walking through Savage Beauty, one thought rings through the visitor’s mind. (Well, besides, “Is that the one Lady Gaga wore at that awards show?”) How could someone project such joy, such frivolity, in his creations, and yet be so tortured in his life?