July 31, 2011
Hail to McQueen!
Britain’s late, darkly romantic master was celebrated at this year’s Costume Institute Gala
By Nancy Staab
Celebs came out from both sides of the pond to hail late fashion designer Alexander McQueen at the Costume Institute Gala this spring with several, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Daphne Guinness, dressed in McQueen’s dreamy gowns. See all the red carpet finery here.
Alexander McQueen was l’enfant terrible of the design world. (While working for a London tailor in the early days he reportedly embedded profanities beneath the lining of one of Prince Charles’ dinner jackets!) He was also a brutal romanticist whose dark visions inspired beauty and the beast. A master couturier, he combined razor sharp tailoring with some of the most subversive yet imaginative frocks on the runway: futuristic prints, armadillo shoes, sadomasochist bondage gowns, and Goth wardrobes inspired by the Salem Witch Trials ruled his runways. Fashion’s most daring dressers such as Isabella Blow, Daphne Guiness, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman and Sarah Jessica Parker regularly modeled his lethally beautiful frocks.
Recently this dreamer and visionary, who passed away last year at the age of 40, was honored at this year’s Costume Institute Gala in May at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. An accompanying exhibit, aptly entitled Savage Beauty, brought together approximately 100 of his master works from his revolutionary Central St. Martins graduation show “Les Incroyables” to ethereal ball gowns. The annual gala, considered the Super Bowl of fashion, was co-chaired this year by a pack of Brits, including Vogue’s Anna Wintour, Stella McCartney and Colin Firth, with Francois-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek as honorary chairs. Click on the images below for a fashion recap of the gala and images of the McQueen exhibit.
Although McQueen’s successor Sarah Burton has inherited some of the “savage beauty” of her mentor’s designer DNA, and created her own name for herself with her recent snow queen/bride collection and Kate Middleton’s decorous lace wedding gown, the couture world continues to mourn McQueen’s passing. Who can forget his elegant satin evening clutches, ballroom-conventional but for the glittering skull clasp that acts like a subtly rebellious, winking memento mori; McQueen’s tribute to Yves St. Laurent in the form of a Le Smoking LBD imprinted with wispy smoke curls; or the phantasmagoric prints and lacy, spiderweb-like leggings of some of his last collections?
His runway shows were equally revolutionary whether presenting models who literally walked on water, gowns spray painted on site by robotic arms, or a holographic version of Kate Moss. Moss, Naomi Campbell, Sting, Rhianna, Bjork and that fellow creator of outré fashion moments, Lady Gaga, were all fans of McQueen’s eccentric, tumultuous talents and so were we. Here’s a glimpse of the Savage Beauty exhibit, a look back at some of his most incendiary fashion moments, and a recap of the red carpet fashion gala held in his honor.