Three cheers for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, which has chosen to devote its big spring exhibition to the extraordinary designs of the late Alexander McQueen. On view from May 4 through July 31 of next year, “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” will trace the designer’s career from his 1992 Central Saint Martins postgraduate collection (famously purchased by Isabella Blow) to his final designs (shown posthumously in March), along the way exploring how McQueen challenged and expanded our understanding of fashion beyond utility to a conceptual expression of culture, politics, and identity. The opening of the exhibition, to be sponsored by the Gucci Group-owned Alexander McQueen brand, will be feted on May 2 with the annual Costume Institute benefit gala, co-chaired by Colin Firth, Stella McCartney, and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Gucci Group head François-Henri Pinault and wife Salma Hayek will serve as honorary chairs.
“Alexander McQueen was best known for his astonishing and extravagant runway presentations, which were given dramatic scenarios and narrative structures that suggested avant-garde installation and performance art,” said Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton in a statement released today. “His fashions were an outlet for his emotions, an expression of the deepest, often darkest, aspects of his imagination. He was a true romantic in the Byronic sense of the word—he channeled the sublime.” Not the easiest thing for an exhibition to capture, but the Met has tapped Sam Gainsbury and Joseph Bennett, the production designers for McQueen’s fashion shows, as creative consultants. They’ll also be working with Raul Avila on the design of the gala. Meanwhile, Bolton plans to feature approximately 100 examples of McQueen’s work in the exhibition. Look for iconic designs such as his bumster trouser, kimono jacket, and origami frock coat to be spread among thematic arrangements that will include “The Savage Mind,” “Romantic Gothic,” and “Romantic Nationalism.”