Our textiles students visited the Savage Beauty exhibition recently, a retrospective of the work of renowned designer Alexander McQueen. The show featured clothes from all stages of his career from his earliest experience at Savile Row, where he learned the art of tailoring, through to the dark and fantastical catwalk shows that characterised his short but intense career. The show featured a hologram of Kate Moss as used in McQueen’s 2006 show ‘Widows of Culloden and’ also featured collaborations with milliner Philip Treacy and the Swarovski crystal brand.
The students, from Years 9 and 10, were accompanied by Miss Moore who said: ‘We first went to Harrods where we visited the Superbrands floor with shops showcasing the work of designers including Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Celine, Dior, Fendi, Miu Miu, Prada, Ralph & Russo, Gucci, Balmain and Valentino. I wanted them specifically to go into the Alexander McQueen store and see things that are off the rail that the general public can buy and wear.
‘I was explaining the qualities of the different fabrics just so they could see fashion in context and how high end fashion ultimately filters down into the high street. It flows from the concept and catwalk shows through exclusive superbrands and then more wearable collections. The ideas filter down and finally end up, in the most cost-effective format, being reflected by high street trends.
'After Harrods we went to the Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A Museum. It was absolutely stunning. You started at the start of McQueen’s work, his first collections. He worked in Savile Row and then went off to university. He was discovered at one of his catwalk shows. Everything was always very controversial and McQueen was a really complex character.
‘All of the items were beautifully made. There were dresses that were 100% pure and painted duck feathers plus hand painted silks and corsetry. It was absolutely stunning. One room was amazing because all the clothes were hung in massive floor to ceiling racking and some rotated so you could see every aspect of them. Virtually everything had a head piece or mask which was a real signature McQueen touch. The quality of the work captured you. There was no real barrier and you could get really close to the clothes although certain items were showcased in glass cabinets.
‘The students were really inspired and I got them to think about how they could use some of the ideas and techniques we had seen. They were really inspired with things like the beadwork and a couple of students asked how do they get into the fashion industry, for instance as a visual merchandiser or buyer. They really saw the links and the fact that there can be real careers out of this. It was a fantastic and amazing show that was stunning, but equally sad, because, with McQueen’s death in 2010, British fashion has lost such a talent.’