“London’s where I was brought up. It’s where my heart is and where I get my inspiration.”
– Alexander McQueen, January 2000
As well as Sound and Doctor Who, fashion is one of my oldest loves. I know there is a hot debate where some think that fashion is just about clothes and doesn’t mean very much. Well I challenge you to say that after seeing Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty at the V&A Museum.
Indeed this seems a bit of a strange topic for a media blog but I want to discuss the sound which was designed by John Gosling and used to enhance the exhibition. I must admit when I went I was expecting just his clothes to be showcased along with stereotypical music and a little bit about the man behind the clothes. I was very much mistaken. Through visuals such as clothes, installations and quotes I could see how he used fashion to express himself. At times this was incredibly emotional and you could see his tortured soul, but if he expressed himself through clothes then the sound was used to take you on a journey inside his mind. That does sound like a strange statement to make so let’s go into a bit more detail.
The 4th room was a jungle theme and was all about his clothes inspired by African tribes and animals, along with an Installation of a model under water and banging on glass. At times this room was extremely claustrophobic and this was partly due to the sound which was a constant and fast paced drum beat, very much like a tribal-type drum. The mixture of a narrow room, the installation and drums created the feeling of being trapped but you couldn’t take your eyes off the clothes.
Now the 5th room was to do with the pride of Scottish heritage and it was filled with Scottish tartans. Part of the beauty of this room was the regal music. The music gave a sense of grace and importance. You very clearly understood how important his heritage was to him and how he felt history should not be forgotten. The music and the clothes were the voice to convey this message.
The 6th room was the largest of the rooms and had the most going on. With so much happening you don’t know where to start. I describe this and see this as a child just entering the world. All you do is look up, confused by your huge surroundings. The music was a mix of Jewelry box music and classical music. You begin to walk around and learn more about the man, seeing footage of his clothes and the way the models walked. His shows were an experience, not just a viewing and very much like this exhibition.
One of the most beautiful rooms was an installation of Kate Moss from one of his shows where she wore a white flowing dress and seemingly floated across stage. Part of why this was one of the most emotional rooms was due to the choice of music which was the theme music from the film Schlinder’s List. This seems an interesting choice. The mix of the music and image is peaceful and calming. I suppose the main thing that makes it so emotional is that up to now the music has been so powerful and strong and this is a chance to reflect. After seeing powerful quotes from the man himself along with very heavy and mental clothes, you see a man calm and at peace and you take that thought with you when you leave, rather than remembering the darkness.
Again the final room is very much about peace. It was about his love of nature and how he used it in his work. The sound was of nature, mainly of birds, birds signify peace and flying away.
I would lie if I said this wasn’t an emotional experience but it was certainly worth it and provided a clear insight into his mind.