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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Published: 7/8/2011
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Image: British fashion designer Alexander McQueen is interviewed as he arrives for the Los Angeles Alexander McQueen Boutique launch party in Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

By Krishna Andavolu. Originally published on

The same week the Vatican approved the beautification of the late Pope John Paul II, the second-to-last step to sainthood, the world of fashion canonized a saint of its own. Alexander McQueen, couture’s former “enfant terrible,” was honored at the annual Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala on May 3rd. He is also the focus of a splendid retrospective at the Metropolitian Museum of Art in New York that runs through the end of July.

McQueen committed suicide last year at the age of 40.

Fashion rarely reaches the realms of fine art, but McQueen’s impossibly tailored creations display a vocabulary of shapes, textures and ideas that elevate his haute couture from sculptural dresses to works of sculpture.

In some of his most successful creations, McQueen transformed natural and manmade materials like razor clam shells, duck feathers, and aluminum piping into humanoid forms. When he did use fabric like silk and tulle, McQueen preferred architectural forms that billowed or stiffened. In both instances, the human body was something to be added to, amended, enhanced or simply played with.

 Paris Fashion Week, 2009 (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Paris Fashion Week, 2009 (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)



McQueen’s ready to wear collections were inventive and simple, refinements of his haute couture embellishments, but above all, they were expertly tailored.

Couple these sartorial achievements with his daring runway shows, and McQueen’s work proved to be a force of fashion, which is still palpable (and palpably missing) in today’s world of high fashion.

His death, like the suicide of novelist David Foster Wallace, left the world bereft of a genius in his prime, a treasure.

“It is important to look at death because it is a part of life. It is a sad thing, melancholy but romantic at the same time. It is the end of a cycle—everything has to end. The cycle of life is positive because it gives room for new things.”
- Alexander McQueen



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