McQueen for a Day

This weekend, I headed to the Met to check out the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibit. I didn’t know who McQueen was until he died (sad, but true), but since then, he’s exploded in popularity—every third celebrity is wearing him on the red carpet, Lady Gaga claims he’s“guiding” her like a spirit animal from the grave, and even Kate Middleton chose to have his new creative director design a dress for that low-brow cocktail party of hers.

The exhibit was wild and impressively creepy; I would not have wanted to spend the night next to the “Jack the Ripper” jacket, which was encased in human hair. There was a strong sense of freakishness in his work that pushed the envelope past the idea of civility. There were dresses with alligator skulls worked into the shoulders, dresses made out of billowing, black parachute silk, and zippered bondage head masks. The collection extended on and on. I imagined the art advisory board of the Met meeting around a very long table and saying things like, “With this exhibit, we declare fashion art!” and “Soo…who wants to interior design? Vern Yip?” Gotta get my Asian in there.

Speaking of Asian, what stood out to me were the artistic influences of Asia that emerged in some of McQueen’s pieces. There was an intricate headdress by Philip Treacy called "Chinese Garden," which emphasized (along with some of McQueen's other pieces) the heavy incorporation of gardens in Asian culture. A series of dresses were designed like kimonos with modern updates. McQueen seemed drawn to the fierce, savage beauty (yes!) of ancient eastern Asian culture juxtaposed against its painfully delicate attention to detail.

If you’re in New York before Aug. 7, check out McQueen’s collection at the Met. It’s weird and it’s feared, and you should do it. Admission is $10 with a student I.D., and $20 for adults.

As for the picture I’ve included—you can’t take pictures inside, so I’ll leave you with this photo I snapped of a boy waiting in line. He was shirtless under a navy blazer that was held together with four gold chains, and he wore Star Trek glasses. Half the flair of this exhibit is watching the fans on display around you.