NEW YORK — Web rumors swirled on Thursday that Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton may indeed have been tapped by Kate Middleton to design her historic wedding gown. Whether or not this morning’s London festivities prove true that speculation, this is a golden moment for the house of McQueen as the genius of its founder goes on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” launches at Monday night’s Costume Institute Gala and opens to the public on Wednesday.
McQueen’s challenge of traditional ideas of beauty is as renown as his mastery of craftsmanship and the drama of his garments and runway spectacles. The exhibit marries these notions seamlessly in its exploration of the complex and creative world of the designer, who took his own life in February 2010. It addresses the themes that informed McQueen’s work including life and death, gender and sexuality and race and religion, as well as a reverence for 19th-century romanticism and an irreverent hand with fashion convention. The exhibit also highlights plenty of examples of McQueen’s most famous runway moments, from the fall 2003 billowing cape shown in an artificial wind tunnel to the spray-painted, white cotton muslin dress worn by Shalom Harlow from spring 1999 and a miniature version of the Kate Moss hologram that ended his fall 2006 show.
The exhibition features about 100 pieces from McQueen’s London archive and the Paris archives of Givenchy as well from the late Isabella Blow’s wardrobe, which Daphne Guinness bought last year and loaned to the museum. It opens with two looks from McQueen’s spring 2001 “Voss” collection: a dress from ostrich feathers and painted red medical slides and another dripping in razor-clam shells.
“McQueen would challenge normative conventions of beauty,” said Andrew Bolton, who curated the show at the museum’s Cantor Galleries with the support of Harold Koda. “Voss’ fetishized materials, silhouettes and themes were iconic to McQueen.”
The powerful opening leads to a stylized recreation of McQueen’s first atelier in London’s Hoxton neighborhood. Here, the famous bumster trousers and skirts are featured along with pieces from his “Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims” graduation collection including a silk satin jacket lined with red silk and human hair. A gallery called “Cabinet of Curiosities” showcases Philip Treacy headdresses and Shaun Leane jewels alongside looks such as a golden, armorlike dress from the designer’s days at Givenchy, a molded plastic bodice laced with realistic-looking worms, and the hand-carved prosthetic legs Aimee Mullins wore for the spring 1999 “No.13” show. “In a way, it’s the soul of this show,” Bolton said of this gallery. “The curious pieces show Lee’s more provocative and confrontational side. You also see his love of craft, and how he advanced fashion by embracing complex ideas.”
The “Romantic Nationalism” gallery juxtaposes tartan looks from the fall 1995 “Highland Rape” with those from “Widows of Culloden” for fall 2006.
The show ends with a lineup from “Plato’s Atlantis,” McQueen’s last complete collection, which touched on “the devolution of mankind rather than the evolution,” Bolton said. “I wanted to end with this because I feel that it brings everything together. It was the balance of craftsmanship and conceptualism, which is what McQueen was about.”
Sam Gainsbury and Joseph Bennett, who helped produce McQueen’s runway shows, consulted on the show, and Guido Palau created head designs that underscore McQueen’s often fetishistic designs.
François-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek will serve as the gala’s honorary chairs, with Colin Firth, Stella McCartney and Anna Wintour as co-chairs.
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion