Aug 7, 2011

The McQueen Legacy

I wouldn't be much of a fashionista if I didn't at least mention the recent Alexander McQueen exhibit that's closing today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in NYC. -- From the sheer spectacle of these highly sculpturesque couture pieces to the utter artistry of flawless execution, this show was a total and complete stunner.
The exhibition itself was artfully "staged" around McQueen's various collections: showing both complete looks (on mannequins + videos) and individual pieces (jewelry, shoes, headpieces) from McQueen's dark baroque stylings (think ruched (!) chiffon-draped shoes more painstakingly ornamented than some couture gowns) to romantic primitivism (animal prints with rich caramel + butterscotch leathers, paired with torn, fluttery hemlines), all of it exquisitely, ohhh ahhh sublimely rendered (as just 1 example, a lush "wearable garden" of flowers that trails organically down the body), none of these extraordinary creations feeling overwrought. What I will remember from this exhibit will be the provocative mood that shines so easily from great art: a metal arm "glove" resembling a silver armor of abstract fish scales, trailing effortlessly from shoulder to wrist; waxy white shoes with human "spines" extruding from each contour, each foot like a half-melted creature pulled from a Dada painting; girls draped in candy cane red and black striped material fluttering out behind them, suspended by wires, leaping effortlessly above a runway of dark rippling water; a kimono-like gown, "split" to reveal a layer of iridescent mother of pearl discs peeking out from underneath; and finally, McQueen's own fascination with subverting our slavish devotion to notions of beauty (the exhibit's final presentation being an obese, nude woman in a huge glass box, ominously wearing a gas mask and surrounded by flora -- who he simply describes as "not what most people would find beautiful" -- taking center stage, surrounded by shattering glass and live butterflies. McQueen's personal story had a tragic ending, but this exhibit captures what remains of his enduring legacy: the grandeur of an exuberant personal vision that's been actualized and realized, especially across such wildly diverging styles, and despite a notoriously fickle industry; of the earnest desire to push, flex, and nearly disintegrate any boundaries of the medium itself, in the personal quest to fully understand it (in fashion, questioning what it means to orchestrate a dynamic, ever-changing, wearable art). Many of McQueen's quotes presented alongside his works were along the lines of "I only did this because I just wanted to try something new"; and for this jaded NYCer, that kind of humble and unfailingly curious approach to one's own craft is something that resonates deeply. -- It was, in short, a magical presentation, and not one I'll soon forget. (OK for a description Laila? Hehe).
Here's hoping you'll find some inspiration today, even it's something in your everyday (all the better). Fresh minded love + fashionista kisses to all!

Teshan2222 Wycliffe
(who's gearing up for NYC fashion week!)