Before stepping foot into the V&A exhibition, I was somewhat clueless of how strong McQueen felt about the character of women. The London gallery was the first room you would enter into, after entering through the thick, black curtains where every visitor is greeted by the house's trademark skull, projected directly in front of you. One of McQueen's most controversial collections where he incorporated his Scottish heritage, was his Autumn Winter 1995 collection, 'Highland Rape' where, according to Tim Blanks, 'models were battered and bloodied'. In other words, 'England's rape of Scotland' during the 19th century. Prior to designing his own collections, McQueen left school young at the 16. He learnt a lot of tailoring techniques in his 2 year apprenticeship with Gieves and Hawkes. In the same room, you'd find the other controversial collections: 'The Birds' from Spring Summer 1995 and 'The Hunger' from Spring Summer 1996. Highlights included using polyurethane and, as the name suggests, McQueen was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock.
His graduate collection was another controversial collection, following his master's degree in fashion design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. It was all about Victorian London, Jack the Ripper and a strong visceral quality of fear.
Freedom of thought. Imagination. A sort of originality. Everything was based in tailoring and draping dressmaking. Body parts were changed depending on inspirations and references for collection. Some collections even has McQueen's own locks of hair.
McQueen invented the bumpster trousers, revealing the top of the buttline, as he described this to be the most exotic part of anybody's body. And in creating this extremely low silhouette, this elongated the body bottom and spine. The hardness in some collections had a power so great that the garments startled people.
The great thing about these exhibitions is that anyone can go and make an opinion of it. And it's no surprise that many would walk out feeling the perverseness within McQueen's mind; not exactly in a pervert-to-people sense (you don't know and won't) but pervert-to-clothing. There's no naiveness because McQueen was not big on gentle, soft women. Potentially aggressive to the normal eye, but that's not the point; rather it's romance dealing with the dark side of his personality. McQueen's violent passion to create the McQueen woman.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, in partnership with Swarovski, supported by American Express and made possible with the co-operation of Alexander McQueen, runs from 14 March – 2 August 2015. www.vam.ac.uk/savagebeauty
To be continued... #tbc