Thursday, May 5, 2011

Jill Krementz covers Alexander McQueen at the Met

It is important to look at death because it is a part of life. It is a sad thing, melancholic 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: Savage Beauty at the Met has welcomed more than 500, 000 visitors since it opened on May 4th. The Museum has extended the exhibition for an extra week through August 7th, and it will remain open to the public for extended hours until 9 pm, beginning Aug 4th. Additionally, the Met Mondays with McQueen ticket program offers special viewings ($50) when the Museum is otherwise closed to the public.

Herewith, a reprise of Jill Krementz's original photojournal in case you missed it. And when you go to the Met be sure to go up to the roof to see Anthony Caro's scupture installation.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
Costume Institute Retrospective at Metropolitan Museum
May 4th-July 31st, 2011

The spring 2011 Costume Institute exhibition celebrates the late Alexander McQueen, who had a spectacular, but way too short, career in fashion.

Known as Lee to those who knew him, the 40-year-old designer committed suicide in 2010, one week after the death of his beloved mother. He was at the height of his fame.

Alexander McQueen shoes that seemed to be the most popular with young woman visitors. They are "Armadillo" boots embroidered with iridescent enamel paillettes.
The Costume Institute's retrospective, organized by Andrew Bolton, with the help of Harold Koda, includes approximately 100 ensembles and 70 accessories from Mr. McQueen's prolific 19-year career. Often outrageous, but always beautifully designed, McQueen's collections explore his engagement with the Romantic sublime and the dialectics of beauty and horror.

The six galleries showcase recurring themes and concepts in McQueen's work: “The Romantic Mind,” “Romantic Gothic,” Romantic Nationalism,” “Romantic Exoticism," “Romantic Primitivism,” and “Romantic Naturalism.”

Also on view are video highlights from ten of McQueen's renowned runway presentations, as well as a hologram featuring the model Kate Moss.

A book, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty ($45) by Andrew Bolton, accompanies the exhibit. Featuring photographs by Sølve Sundsbø, as well as poignant quotes from the late designer, and an interview with Sarah Burton, who is now the creative director of Alexander McQueen, the catalogue is a worthy souvenir of a spectacular retrospective.

I'm guessing I don't need to tell you that Ms. Burton designed the wedding dress for Kate Middleton.

There are going to be lines around the block for this show. Fashionistas might want to leave those McQueen booties at home.
Anna Wintour, Editor of Vogue. Trino Verkade, Creative Coordinator for Alexander McQueen.
The Met's Harold Holzer and Elyse Topalian working on front row seating assignments.
Members of the press.
Carter B. Horsley, Editor & Publisher of a blog called The City Review. David Vincent, who writes for UK Harper's Bazaar and The Guardian.
Andrew Bolton, Curator of The Costume Institute.

"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. 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."
Annemiek Ter Linden and Sølve Sundsbø. Ms. Ter Linden is a photography agent who works at Art & Commerce. She represents Mr. Sundsbø who has photographed for Alexander McQueen over the years. It is his work that appears exclusively in the show's catalogue. Philip Treacy, milliner to the Royal Family, who certainly had his "hat moment" last week at Westminster Abbey. When you see the headpieces on display at the Met, designed for Alexander McQueen, you'll realize just how conservative those wedding hats were — the ones you saw perched on the many heads of the lucky ladies who attended William and Kate's wedding.
Hillary Alexander from The Daily Spectator. Andrew Bolton, Stella McCartney, and Sarah Burton.
Met Director Thomas Campbell welcomes guests and members of the press to the exhibition. In the background is official Met photographer, Don Pollard.
Stella McCartney said that she had known Alexander McQueen, her friend, and colleague, since college: "We both learned tailoring on Savile Row. In later years we loved walking along the beach collecting clam shells."

Sarah Burton, creative director for Alexander McQueen, who worked closely with the designer for fourteen years. Ms. Burton recently designed Kate Middleton's beautiful wedding dress as well as the exquisite dress worn by Kate's younger sister, and maid of honor, Pippa. Even Anna Wintour couldn't pry the secret from her prior to the wedding.
Thomas Campbell, Anna Wintour, Sarah Burton, Stella McCartney, and Andrew Bolton.
Thomas Campbell and Anna Wintour.
Thomas Campbell with Nancy Chilton, Head of Publicity for The Costume Institute. Fern Mallis, who started Fashion on Seventh.
Stella McCartney signing the show's catalogue. On the left hand page you can see a photograph of Alexander McQueen, known as Lee to all of his close friends.
CNN's Alina Cho interviewing Andrew Bolton. Harold Koda.
Entrance to exhibition.
On left:
Jacket, Nihilism
spring/summer 1994
Black silk and cotton damask

On right:
Dress, No 13
spring/summer 1999
Coated black cotton
Coat, Nihilism
spring/summer 1994
Grey silk and wool
Dress, Plato's Alantis
spring/summer 2010
Gray wool, silk and synthetic knit
printed in jellyfish pattern
Jacket, It's a Jungle Out There
autumn/winter 1997-98
Silk and cotton twill printed in
Hieronymus Bosch pattern
On Left:
House of Givenchy Haute Couture
Ensemble, Eclect Dissect,
autumn/winter 1997-98
Black silk moiré with black silk lace and
black horsehair embroidered with jet beads.

On Right:
autumn/winter 2002-3
Jacket of black silk faille; skirt of black
silk organza with jet beads; jabot of black silk lace.

All masks and head treatments by Gordon Palau.

Music: Mekon, "Disco Bloodbath."
Ensemble, Dante
autumn/winter 1967-97
Corset of lilac silk faille appliqued with
black silk lace embroidered with jet beads;
trousers of black fleece and cashmere
View of several McQueen ensembles. These lovely embroidered lavender silk shoes were not labeled. Compared to McQueen's other footwear, they are practically "flats."
autumn/winter 2002-3
Shirt of black synthetic mesh;
skirt of black silk taffeta and organza
Backpiece, Dante
autumn/winter 1967-97
Resin horn, silver metal
House of Givenchy Haute Couture
Chopine, Eclect Dissect,
autumn/winter 1997-98
Red and black leather
Chopine, pre-collection
autumn/winter 2006-7
Red silk satin embroidered with
black and white silk thread
Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen
Nose Bar and Hooped Neckpiece, Eshu,
autumn/winter 2000-2001
Sarah Harmarnee for Alexander McQueen
Shoulderpiece; Untitled,
spring/summer, 1998
Silver-plated metal
Ensemble, No. 13
spring/summer 1999
Halter shirt of tan leather;
skirt of balsa wood
Additional views of No. 13
Wrap, What a Merry-Go-Round,
autumn/winter 2001-2
Black silk satin embroidered with gold military bullion
Ensemble, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,
autumn/winter 2002-3
Coat of black parachute silk;
trouser of black synthetic

Hat by Philip Treacy
for Alexander McQueen
Black silk satin
Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen
Hat, La Dame Bleue
spring/summer 2008
Turkey feathers painted and shaped like butterflies
Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen
Hat, La Dame Bleue,
spring, summer 2008
Silver synthetic net with Swarovski dragonfly
Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen
Hat, What a Merry-Go-Round
autumn/winter 2001-2
Black leather, black ostrich feathers,
silver metal, and black pearls
Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen
Headpiece, Widows of Culloden
autumn/winter 2006-7
Woodcock wings
Shaun Leane and Philip Treacy for
Alexander McQueen
Headpiece, Widows of Culloden
autumn/winter 2006-7
Silver, Swarowski, and gull feathers
Alex Szulc, a photographer for Elle China (The Chinese edition of Elle Magazine). Tony Sjoman, a photographer from Finland who works for Göteborgs-Posten, a Swedish newspaper.
Writer Regina Weinrech:

"I bought the jacket in 1997. I loved the asymmetry of it, one side being a classic blazer, the other featuring a long lapel that droops low on one side if you wear it unbuttoned. At the time, friends
told me they did not think the design worked. It worked for me! I feel validated seeing it at the MET."
Art critic Walter Robinson. Ilaria Brey. A native of Padova, Italy, Ms. Brey has been contributing stories to Italian Elle for
fifteen years.
Sarah Harmarnee for
Alexander McQueen
Armor, Joan
autumn/winter 1998-99
Silver-plated metal

At last the perfect outfit for me! The photographers today are less civil, and have far sharper elbows, than my former colleagues.
Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen
"Crown of Thorns" Headpiece and "Thorn" Armpiece, Dante,
autumn/winter 1967-97
A quartet of classic McQueen red tartan outfits often appliqued with black cotton lace. Other features include underskirts of black synthetic tulle and faux jabots of black cotton with broderie anglaise.
Jumpsuit, Widows of Culloden,
autumn/winter 2006-7
McQueen wool tartan; ruffled shirt of black cotton, silk crepe, and silk satin with broderie anglaise.
Dress, Widows of Culloden,
autumn/winter 2006-7
McQueen wool tartan embroidered with jet beads, collar, cuffs, and hem of cream silk tulle.
Ensemble, The Girl Who Lived in the Tree,
autumn/winter 2008-9
Coat of red silk satin; dress of ivory silk
chiffon embroidered with crystal beads.
Ensemble, The Girl Who Lived in the Tree,
autumn/winter 2008-9
Overdress of red silk crepe woven with
ivory silk jacquard borders; underdress of
ivory silk tulle.
Ensemble, The Girl Who Lived in the Tree,
autumn/winter 2008-9
Dress of ivory silk chiffon embroidered with red glass crystals; bolero of red silk satin.
Ensemble, The Girl Who Lived in the Tree,
autumn/winter 2008-9
Jacket of red silk velvet embroidered with gold bullion and trimmed with white shearling; dress of ivory silk tulle.
One of the stranger installations. Music from Schindler's List was playing.
Pepper's Ghost Hologram from Widows of Culloden
autumn/winter 2006-7
directed by Baillie Walsh
and featuring Kate Moss
Dress, Scanners
autumn/winter 2003-4
Natural jute embroidered with cotton
and silk thread, underskirt of gold silk organza
Detail (back) of Scanners
Ensemble, VOSS,
spring/summer 2001
Overdress of panels from a nineteenth-century Japanese silk screen; underdress of oyster shells.

Neckpiece by Shaun Leane
Silver and Tahiti pearls.

Below: Detail of neckpiece.

Dress, It's a Jungle Out There,
autumn/winter 1997-98
Cream pony skin appliqued with flowers embroidered with white, beige, and black glass beads.
On left:
Ensemble, It's a Jungle Out There,
autumn/winter 1997-98
Jacket of brown pony skin with impala horns; trousers of bleached denim

On right:
Ensemble, It's a Jungle Out There,
autumn/winter 1997-98
Brown leather with bleached denim and
taxidermy crocodile heads
Detail of crocodile heads.
"Oyster" Dress, Irere,
spring/summer 2003
Ivory silk organza, georgette, and chiffon
On left:
Dress, Irere,
spring/summer 2003
Ivory silk faille with black leather;
underskirt of ivory silk organza;
halter of black leather and silver metal

On right:
Bodysuit, Irere
spring/summer 2003
Nude synthetic net embroidered
with glass beads
The walls of the final gallery are covered with this beautiful paper.
Dress, Sarabande,
spring/summer 2007
Nude silk organza embroidered with silk and fresh flowers
Dress, Widows of Culloden,
autumn/winter 2006-7
Cream silk tulle with resin antlers
Mannequins on display as you exit the exhibition in an ensemble called Plato's Atlantis. Four of the models are wearing McQueen's famous shoes popularized by Lady Gaga and Daphne Guinness.
Exhibition shelf in gift shop.
Gift shop wall display.
Exhibition catalogue displayed in gift shop. This catalogue is going to sellout. Alexander McQueen Skull Clutch; $1695.
Photographer Sølve Sundsbø, who took the beautiful photographs for the show's catalogue. He met Alexander McQueen several years ago after the designer had seen, and admired, Sundsbø's work in the French fashion magazine, Numero.
The New York Times's Bill Cunningham checks out the McQueen postcards on sale. Sheila Metcalf, who works in the Met's gift shop.
Preparations were underway for the evening festivities hosted by co-chairs Anna Wintour, Colin Firth, and Stella McCartney.
Entrance to the museum, the tree reminiscent of those which were recently placed in Westminster Abbey for the Royal Wedding. These flowers filled all the urns in the Met's Great Hall for the Gala.
My collections have always been autobiographical, a lot to do with my own sexuality and coming to terms with the person I am — it was like exorcising my ghosts in the collections. They were to do with my childhood, the way I think about life and the way I was brought up to think about life.
I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists.
I have to force people to look at things.
This photojournal is dedicated to my daughter, Lily Vonnegut, because she loves Alexander McQueen and because she is the one who first introduced me to his work.

Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz
all rights reserved.