Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse

For some, McQueen is the crescendo in a Requiem Mass, for others, McQueen is the force of two falcons copulating on a blustery afternoon. For Australia, McQueen is coming to the NGV this summer.

NGV International | 11 December 2022 – 16 April 2023

FEATURE BY ALEXIA PETSINIS May 2022

Image credit: Installation photograph, Lee Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, April 24–October 9, 2022, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

 

“For me, what I do is an artistic expression which is channelled through me. Fashion is just the medium,” said Alexander McQueen of his Autumn/Winter 2010 -11 collection Romantic Gothic.

Ask fashion folk what Alexander McQueen means in the contemporary design zeitgeist, and you can be assured the phrase ‘wearable art’ will come up. Ask an art crowd how Alexander McQueen defined 21st century visual culture, and they’ll likely speak of the ‘seminal’ designer, the rule-breaker who captured the pulse of modern life by exploring the mechanics of life, death and nature. The breadth of McQueen’s mystical fashion-art practice will be celebrated at the National Gallery of Victoria this summer with Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse, an Australian-exclusive exhibition organised by Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

A self-confessed ‘Romantic schizophrenic,’ McQueen’s oeuvre reveals the significance of his legacy as both a conceptual thinker and a political provocateur. Such stature is ideally situated in an art gallery context. Equating emotion with aesthetics, the designer’stextile feats depict expressions of traditional tailoring that were deconstructed and reimagined as part of his signature metamorphic design process. Call it art, call it fashion, a McQueen creation transforms the mind as much as the body. 50 Alexander McQueen garments from the NGV Collection will join a significant assortment from LACMA’s holdings, thrilling gallery-goers far beyond the fashion sphere. Not familiar with the narrative thread behind a knife-ravaged bustier? Or a pompous, plumage-sleeved black capelet? A viewer who has never heard of

Alexander McQueen can stand in front of his garments and experience them on a purely visceral level. First the texture, the embellishment, the craftsmanship, and then, the intrigue, ecstasy, or perhaps, the repulsion.
“Alexander McQueen is beloved for his boundary-pushing and highly conceptual designs that set him apart from his contemporaries. With meticulous craftmanship and an intellectual rigour seldom seen on the runways before or since, he created a new vocabulary for fashion design that still resonates today,” says NGV Director, Tony Ellwood AM.

“Comprising more than 110 garments, this showstopping exhibition unites the collections of LACMA and the NGV for the very first time, and celebrates the timeless work of one of the true icons of late twentieth century fashion,” he adds.

Curated across four themes, Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse showcases garments spanning the designer’s most notable and often controversial collections, including Highland Rape (autumn-winter 1995–1996), The Widows of Culloden (autumnwinter 2006–2007), and an extensive exploration of his Deliverance (spring-summer 2004) and Plato’s Atlantis (spring-summer 2010) collections. The exhibition’s Mythos themeexplores historical cues from mythology, religion and centuries-old visual cultures. Fashioned Narratives delineates McQueen’s Scottish genealogy and autobiographical narratives through romanticised visions of power, violence, and persecution. Evolution and Existence is a deep dive into the designer’s fascination with life, death and evolution, as explored in collections including The Horn of Plenty (autumn-winter 2009–10) and The Dance of the Twisted Bull (spring-summer 2002). Juxtaposing early and more evolved career works, the exhibition’s Technique and Innovation theme emphasises McQueen’s technical prowess in tailoring and garment construction, while Dangerous Bodies thrills the gaze with a racy rush of savage cutting and textural interventions defining McQueen’s earlier collections including Banshee (autumn-winter 1994) and The Hunger (spring-summer 1996).

For some, McQueen is the crescendo in a Requiem Mass, for others, McQueen is the force of two falcons copulating on a blustery afternoon. For Australia, McQueen is coming to the NGV this summer.

Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse will be on display from 11 December 2022 – 16 April 2023 at NGV International.

ngv.vic.gov.au
lacma.org

 

Image credit: Alexander McQueen, Look 38, Look 40, Look 41, The Widows of Culloden collection, autumn–winter 2006–07. Courtesy the photographer. Photo © Robert Fairer © Alexander McQueen. Models: Natasha Poly, Querelle Jansen, Tanya Dziahileva

 

Image credit: Alexander McQueen, Look 37, Eshu, collection, autumn–winter 2000–01. © Alexander McQueen. Photo: Giovanni Giannoni, Vogue, © Condé Nast. Model: Alek Wek

 

Image credit: Alexander McQueen, Look 15, The Horn of Plenty collection, autumn–winter 2009–10. Courtesy the photographer. Photo © Robert Fairer © Alexander McQueen. Model: Kamila Filpcikova

 

Image credit: Alexander McQueen backstage at Pantheon as Lecum collection, autumn–winter 2004–05 show. Courtesy the photographer. Photo © Robert Fairer

 

Image credit: Lee Alexander McQueen (designer); Alexander McQueen, London (fashion house), Woman’s dress, 2006, The Widows of Culloden collection, autumn–winter 2006–07. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Gift of Regina J. Drucker © Alexander McQueen © Museum Associates/LACMA

 

Image credit: Lee Alexander McQueen (designer); Alexander McQueen, London (fashion house), Woman’s ensemble: dress, blouse and shoes, 2006, Sarabande collection, spring–summer 2007. Los Angeles County Museum of Art Regina J. Drucker © Alexander McQueen © Museum Associates/LACMA

 

Image credit: Alexander McQueen (designer); Alexander McQueen, London (fashion house), Look 30, dress 2006 (detail), The Widows of Culloden collection, autumn–winter 2006–07. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Gift of Krystyna Campbell-Pretty AM and the Campbell- Pretty Family through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2018 © Alexander McQueen

 

Image credit: Lee Alexander McQueen (designer); Alexander McQueen, London (fashion house), Woman’s capelet, pants and shoes, 2003, Deliverance collection, spring–summer 2004. Los Angeles County Museum of Art Gift of Regina J. Drucker © Alexander McQueen © Museum Associates/LACMA

 

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