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Exhibit Review: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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I’m more of an informed enthusiast than an expert when it comes to fashion. My appreciation for the medium is rooted in my love for all forms of art. The fact that it is wearable (for the most part) strengthens the appeal.Dress, Voss, S/S 2001, Alexander McQueen, c/o blog.metmuseum.org

Although it has yet to reach its full potential, I’m proud of my characteristically eclectic wardrobe, which includes a handful of one-of-a-kind as well as otherwise purposefully quirky and/or unique pieces. Both as a woman and as an actress, fashion is one of the many ways that I express the various facets of who I am. From cheeky quasi-hipster to bohemian Brooklynite to buxom glamazon—along with other practical and playful (among other things) incarnations—my outfits reflect my diverse inner workings.

These things considered, shame on me for not making it to Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art sooner! (But—you guessed it—betta late than nevah.) The pieces in this collection are so divine—or, rather, echoing the curators’ apt sentiment, sublime—that they could’ve been displayed side-by-side along Fifth Avenue and would’ve taken your breath away. The exhibit takes things miles further by creating an entire experience. One that does the artist justice.

In one of his many quotes scattered through the exhibit, McQueen says:

“For me, what I do is an artistic expression which is channeled through me. Fashion is just the medium.”

Indeed, after making my way through the exhibit, which includes video from his shows, I agree that the word “designer” does not fully capture his genius. The thoroughly wrought individual pieces and brilliantly conceptualized and executed collections and shows are the work of an artist.

There are so many exquisite pieces that picking five favorites, let alone one, would be a challenge—though the lovely red and black dress (made of glass! and ostrich feathers*) pictured above would be in that number. I’m pretty sure that this was my first time being that close to haute couture; and, coupled with awareness of McQueen’s deeply personal aesthetic, I was moved by certain pieces in the same way that I’ve been stirred by paintings. In addition to the wonder and awe of an encounter with the sublime, I was tickled at times.

Again, while the work speaks volumes for itself, the ambience created by the Met’s curators amplifies the repertoire. Individual pieces, including a room full of (mostly) accessories from various collections, are grouped and displayed based on stylistic categories such as “Romantic Nationalism” and “Romantic Exoticism.” Likewise, evocative music complements the theme of each room within the exhibit, which is a nice button and my favorite part of the exhibit other than the stunning garments.

Whether you’re a fashion novice, a connoisseur, both, neither, or somewhere in between, if you appreciate art, don’t miss Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. The exhibit closes on August 7, 2011. 

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*In one of his quotes featured in the “Romantic Exoticism” section, McQueen mentions that the “animal skins … were all by-products;” and I can’t help hoping that he was always so conscientious when using animal materials. 

Image Credit: Dress, Voss, Spring/Summer 2001, Alexander McQueen, c/o http://blog.metmuseum.org/alexandermcqueen/dress-voss-3/

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