Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty is the first and largest retrospective of the late designer's body of work to be shown in Europe. Housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, I can honestly say with hand on heart that this is one of the best exhibitions I have ever seen. For the sights, the sounds, the atmosphere, the presentation, the beauty, the 'savage beauty' if you will.
* Spoiler alert * If you plan to go to this do not read any further! Have you stopped? Anyone left? Let's proceed.
The exhibition sits in one of the farthest corners of the V&A. It's a favourite space of mine and has been home to many a fine exhibition, but nothing from the outside prepares the viewer for what is on the inside. The rooms transport you from one collection to another, the mannequins booted, masked, adorned with the designs - to say clothes just doesn't seem enough. I've never seen couture so close up before and it is breathtaking. The intricate designs, the vision, the tailoring skills, all brought to life in these incredible clothes that hang like nothing I own. I found myself standing in front of so many of them with my mouth wide open, eyes wide, and trying really really hard not to reach out and touch, just to feel the fabric between my fingers... (of course I didn't do this as everyone knows that is way against the rules, no matter how much you want to - glue your hands to your side if you are in any way tempted!)
And the rooms. How to even begin to describe the rooms. From the sparkling bones with the creepy blue lightplay above you, to the red clan room where every single dress was just. simply. stunning. To the cabinet of curiosities that I am certain made me gasp out loud. I've never seen anything like it before. Floor to ceiling shelving, the exhibition designers had literally made a cabinet of curiosities, and no matter where you looked you just weren't done. The mirrored boxes at the edge of the shelving that made you dizzy when you looked down, Mahler's 5th oozing out of one shelf that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and all the while iconic exhibit after iconic exhibit showing up in your sightline. Simply breathtaking. Just when you think it can't be topped, out of that room into a blackened room and a hologram that starts off as a tiny beating white light and turns into Kate Moss shimmying and spinning in a white lace creation with music that beats through your feet. By the time you reach the last couple of rooms with his final collection, you are spent, visually and emotionally.
I still have goose bumps. And days later, when I close my eyes in bed, my mind takes me back to one of the rooms and I re-live it all over again.
Breathtaking. Quite literally.
From the lyrical to the practical. It's busy. Like mega-busy. Shuffling isn't uncommon. But you'll be so busy looking around yourself in awe that you'll soon forget the crowds. To say that I recommend you visit would be a minor understatement. If you can, do it. Even if you think that maybe it might be impossible, try moving heaven and earth to get to it. I truly don't think there will ever be anything like it again. Beauty. Truly Savage Beauty.
Book tickets here: Savage Beauty tickets
Cost: £17.50 (plus any additional moving of heaven and earth spends)
Dates: on until 2nd August 2015
Times: various, time slots available at booking point
Location: Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL, UK (nearest tube is South Kensington)