The Pull of Savage Beauty

Stepping into the world of the late Alexander McQueen‘s Savage Beauty, a retrospective of his two decades in fashion now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is to step into a twilight zone of myth, legend, fantasy and intrigue.

For so many years, I have looked with half an eye at the photographs in newspapers and magazines struggling to understand the concept behind his particular style.  I hesitate to use the word fashion  (noun, a popular trend, especially in styles of dress and ornament)  in this context and now, having seen and been confronted with such depths of exquisite detail, I understand how redundant a term it is when applied to the tortured artist that was Alexander McQueen.

The tailored suits, the beaded, frothy feathered organza, the dramatic black gowns rich with texture, dimension and mourning are triumphs of artistic vision and handwork, the details, so many of them, a rich testimony to the old-fashioned value that is effort and hard work in the creation of beauty.

The mirrored darkness of the exhibition sheds light on an almost primaeval transcendence.  His Scottish roots at the forefront of all he did, McQueen never lets us forget the savagery which roamed the sceptered isles, from the Battle of Culloden in the Scottish Highlands to the murderous meanderings of Jack the Ripper in the East End of London. From this has come beauty.

I so wanted to touch, to reach out and feel in my hand the lightness so evident in the detail.  I wanted to be “The Girl Who Lived in the Tree.”   I want to break out of the drab and embrace the colour in me!

That such colour exists in the depths of darkness. . .

Alexander McQueen hanged himself, in London, February 2010. His art will live forever.