Retrospective highlights Alexander McQueen's career

Wed May 4, 2011 8:44am EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - From an expertly tailored black silk jacket to a futuristic outfit, a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art chronicles the extraordinary career of the late British fashion designer Alexander McQueen.

With about 100 ensembles and 70 accessories from collections spanning 19 years, the Costume Institute exhibition "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty," reveals the inspiration behind his elaborate shows, his imaginative approach to fashion and the technical ingenuity and masterful constructions of his provocative creations.

"For McQueen, fashion wasn't just about wearability or practicality it was a vehicle to challenge our ideas, our concepts about fashion, to challenge our boundaries and challenge what we mean by beauty," said Andrew Bolton, the curator of the exhibition that opens on Wednesday and runs through July 31.

"He saw life very cinematically and I think that was reflected in his clothing."

The British designer who took his own life a year ago at age 40, described himself as a romantic schizophrenic, someone who found beauty in the grotesque and who sought to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.

The retrospective is divided into seven galleries, or themes, such as the romantic mind, romantic gothic, romantic nationalism and romantic naturalism.

"I wanted the exhibition to unfold like a fairy tale, a Brothers Grimm fairly team. McQueen was deeply romantic in the Byronic sense of the word," said Bolton, who added McQueen's shows suggested avant-garde installation and performance art.

Black leather creations and accessories vie with soft flowing white chiffon gowns and lace or flower and beaded dresses for the viewers' attention in the retrospective.   Continued...

<p>Alexander McQueen's Dress, autumn/winter 2010. REUTERS/The Metropolitan Museum of Art</p>