My sewing teacher mentioned during class tonight that she was waffling about whether to take a tough trip up to New York for the Alexander McQueen “Savage Beauty” exhibit at the Met.

The name rang a bell… how could it not – what a name. But I realized it was because I’d recently read about McQueen while editing reams of copy for a new start-up fashion mag called Meets Obsession (the inaugural issue is out very soon! maybe this week : ) it’s run by a couple friends of ours.)

Anyhow when I got home from class, the natural light in the house was a little gray colored, like it gets when it’s dusk and it’s still too bright out to turn on a lamp. But I was unprepared for what a perfect backdrop it would be for viewing photos of this exhibit (watch video footage here, narrated by the curator) … gallery after gallery, McQueen’s lavishly macabre pieces were draped on mannequins and it was positively eerie … spine-tingling. Delicious. Romantic Gothic. Even borderline exoticized cyberpunk.

The surface treatments on the gallery structures included rusty metal, aged mirrors and marquetry, which lent some of the exhibits a cold, pirate feel. But then the luxuriousness of McQueen’s fabrics, and the expression of everything from culture to violence to beauty to personal rage and emotion in his designs, more than compensated for any absence of warmth. The resulting effect was a feeling of absolute prickly awe. Like footsteps echoing in a hall. Sort of the feeling of coming across abandoned ruins from a civilization of exoticized antiquity.

Speaking of antiquity, McQueen is quoted:

“You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.”

Amen. It’s an artistic principle that appears to hold across disciplines and among philosophical greats. Case in point, Bruce Lee and Miyamoto Musashi, author of The Book of Five Rings.

Maybe the best way to describe the exhibit is that scene from Pan’s Labyrinth where the girl goes into the cave of that scary monster with eyes in its hands. (Ok not as scary as that, but it still reminded me of it!)

Written by devotchkaa

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