Museums just typically aren’t my thing. To be completely honest, I find most of them a bit boring. But London’s Victoria and Albert Museum was able to lure me with the promise of over-the-top tartan frocks, crystal encrusted shoes and surreal accessories. The Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition, the most visited show in the history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, pays tribute to the late designer with an expanded collection of his garments and accessories.
The exhibition takes over several galleries in the V&A Museum and each room is themed. It starts with McQueen’s early collection when he was an up and coming London designer. Looking at the early pieces – blazers, trousers and skirts in dark solids and subdued prints – it’s almost hard to believe they came from the daring designer.
As the exhibition moves through McQueen’s collections, the weird and fantastical are evident. Jackets with human hair sewn inside, animal skulls that adorn the shoulders, and a dress made almost entirely of bird feathers are just some of the designs that elicit verbal reactions from the otherwise silent crowd taking the exhibit in. This is what McQueen is famous for.
The Cabinet of Curiosities is the centerpiece of the exhibition. The room is filled with more than 120 pieces – a headpiece made of fluttering butterflies, a Union Jack clutch with skull clasp, a wooden dress, crystal encrusted shoes – while 27 screens shows clips from almost all of McQueen’s catwalk shows. You could spend hours alone in this single room taking in the sometimes shocking pieces.
Everyone lingers in the final room, dubbed Platos Atlantis with futuristic dresses and sky-high platform shoes, watching another catwalk video play out on the screen and wanting more.
My McQueen experience wasn’t over just yet though; I walked the short distance to The Kensington Hotel for a special Fashion Forward afternoon tea inspired by the designer. All the usual sweets, sandwiches and scones are served in the hotel’s cozy Town House restaurant, with a twist.
As the three-tiered tray is delivered to my table, I remember the butterfly headpiece made of hand-painted turkey feathers from the Cabinet of Curiosities. Now it is in the form of a red velvet cupcake with chocolate butterfly. The red marzipan dress reminds me of the red feathered dress and the marzipan covered cherry cake is inspired by the skull clutch.
The sweets are delicious, but the elegant savories were actually my favorite. My favorite bite is the silver croissant filled with foie gras and mango, the Dorset crab and artichoke cocktail is delicious, and the “just because” golden quail egg is fun.
With scones, a selection of sandwiches, tea and a glass of champagne, I linger over it all as I did the Savage Beauty exhibition itself. The afternoon has been a fashionable feast for all my senses!
Know Before You Go
Our visit to the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition was provided by the Victoria and Albert Museum and exhibition images were provided courtesy of the V&A Press Office in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own.