Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty Exhibition Review

alexander mcqueen savage beauty

Review Info

"An outstanding exhibition at the V&A and one of the best fashion exhibits I have seen. A totally immersive experience, the curation was spot on and the information was great. 5 stars and more!"


Our rating:

Buy it for £17.50

Last week, I visited the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (and one of my favourite places in the whole world) to see the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition. The V&A have held some amazing fashion exhibitions over the years (read my review of their wedding dress exhibition last year). This Alexander McQueen exhibition is one of their biggest, and was incredibly busy. I’ve never seen an exhibition do so well!

I admittedly went in with only a little knowledge of McQueen and his associated designs. I had seen pieces before, and was familiar with his most famous skull print scarves, but beyond that I didn’t know much. I was expecting quite a simple exhibition showing outfits in glass cases with some details, but the exhibition was totally immersive with so many different rooms showing different collections and themes, plus a bonus Kate Moss hologram that was amazing to watch!

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty was originally shown in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and has been it’s most popular fashion exhibit to date, with over 650,000 people viewing and an expected similar number in London.

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty Exhibition

The name Savage Beauty encapsulates exactly what the clothing and pieces shown are. McQueen used many different details in the garments that were sometimes horrifying, sometimes making you feel uneasy, but ultimately all beautiful. The use of human hair as trimmings was particularly weird but also beautiful. As April said: “hair is pretty until it’s not on your head. Then it’s disgusting”. That made a lot of sense to me, and was why I found some of the garments so beautiful but also slightly horrifying. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wrinkle your nose up when you think about it, but really, why do we find it so upsetting? A large quote printed on one of the walls explained exactly what McQueen was after. “I want people to be afraid of the women I dress.”

alexander mcqueen savage beauty

The Cabinet of Curiosities was one of the best areas of the exhibition. This room was nearly 30ft high, filled with cabinets containing garments, headpieces, shoes and more. Videos and creepy soundtracks played all around as some of the modelled pieces spun in circles, giving you an entire view of the garment. Everywhere you looked was something interesting. The large video screen in the centre showed pieces from McQueens craziest (and most famous) catwalk shows, including use of living butterflies in cages, and the famous paint splattering robots (along with paint-splattered dress). There were many other rooms, all detailing different collections. It was interesting to see the progression of the designs as time went on.

Model: Shalom Harlow represented by dna model management New York, Image: CatwalkingModel: Shalom Harlow represented by dna model management New York, Image: Catwalking

Going to see Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty

The exhibition costs £17.50 for non-members. Trust me, it’s well worth it. You can get your tickets from LOVEtheatre, the official ticket seller for this exhibition (you cannot buy them direct from V&A online).

I would probably recommend not bringing young children to this exhibition. It’s kinda terrifying.

Interested in more?

If you’re interested in finding out more about Alexander McQueen, and other designers, muses, and fashionistas of the time I strongly recommend reading Champagne Supernovas: the 90s Renegades Who Remade Fashion to learn more about McQueen and also the culture of the 90s fashion and art scene where he created these amazing pieces of art.

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty


Francesca Haselden

Francesca is the owner of EatSleepKnitUK, she also works for Toyota Home Sewing and is a web developer 9-5!

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