Jun 1, 2011
Friends, I have neither the skill nor the familiarity with the subject to write a valid critique of Savage Beauty, the Alexander McQueen show at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, which I was fortunate enough to see yesterday.
I'm also not the right person. Asking me to review the McQueen show is like sending Doris Day to review a Metallica concert. (I actually had to ask Michael, who's sitting beside me at the moment, to give me the name of a heavy metal band, which only proves my point.)
Everybody has a dark side, I suppose, and Alexander McQueen's was apparently very dark. He killed himself last year. The Met cashes in on this, and the exhibit -- sponsored by the Alexander McQueen fashion house (owned by the Gucci Group), American Express, and Conde Nast (publishers of Vogue) -- has an exploitative, death-culty feel, though it certainly burnishes the brand.
Savage Beauty showcases approximately 100 of McQueens dresses -- mostly gowns -- and a wide array of accessories: hats, shoes, and jewelry, and many beyond categorization. They are extraordinary costumes -- the types of outfits you see Lady Gaga wear in music videos. They are only distantly related to what I (most people?) would consider fashion, i.e, what people actually wear or how they aspire to dress.
Clothing displayed in a museum exhibit is usually couture, which is custom-made for extremely wealthy clients -- red carpet stuff. Opulence abounds. And most runway shows these days are more about theater and garnering headlines than fashion. McQueen was a master of this kind of luxurious spectacle.
To me, the show is too big and, like a bad movie, hammers home its themes lest you miss the point: through much of it, macabre-sounding music plays in the background; the lighting is dark, the mood creepy. Throw in some animatronic figures and row boats, and you'd be in the Pirates of the Caribbean or Haunted Mansion rides at Disneyland.
And just like a Disney ride, you empty out directly into the gift shop, where you can buy the book, the T-shirt, or some postcards. Ka-ching!
See the McQueen show for the extraordinary use of unusual materials, including duck feathers, human hair, and every sort of S&M leather fetish accessory. Enjoy the spectacle. Expect to rub elbows -- if not more --with hundreds of other somewhat dazzled (dazed?) tourists. Wear comfortable shoes.
When you're done, treat yourself to a trip to the Central Park Zoo, an ice cream cone, or maybe a ride on the carousel. You'll need it.
Labels: fashion show