When I booked my ticket on 4th April 2014 for the Savage Beauty exhibition, I did not realise that I had booked to go on the day that would have been Alexander McQueen's 46th birthday. This is my 4th clothing-based exhibition at the V and A and it really does live up to the hype, and I am not surprised to see that the exhibition has already even extended until the 2nd August.
Suzy Menkes has written a very perceptive review, with excellent photographs, here. As a devoted McQueen fan, I am familiar with his training in Savile Row, Angels and Bermans, Central St Martins and his work at Givenchy, but Menkes makes a fair point that none of this is really explained in the exhibition. I think it is critical to understand McQueen's path into couture, to really appreciate his technical skill, his cultural context and his breathtaking artistry.
I would have appreciated more indication of which pieces he had the actual artisanal as well as the artistic hand, so I could revere even more those where he stitched, cut or slashed the fabric himself.
The staging of the show is supremely theatrical, many of the garments are not under glass and viewers can get close enough to see construction seams and embellishments, - the curved French dart was much in evidence as is McQueen's understanding of the properties of the fabrics with which he worked. I've never seen bias-cut hessian look so elegant.
The V and A seem to have learned from the crush at the Golden Age of Couture exhibition, and there was less crowding around the exhibits and the flow through the rooms seemed steady and gave everyone enough time to really examine each piece as they wished. The book to accompany the exhibition, by Claire Wilcox ,is now on my wish list. No photography in the exhibition, therefore images of my favourites are from the websites that you will find if you click each image, particularly the Met museum in New York.
I do have an ambivalent relationship with couture, loving the artistry, the ingenuity and the incredible fabrics, but being very uneasy about the uber-luxury market to which it is now pitched. That being said, I would still urge you to go, and then go again.