The dark, romantic and uncensored imagination of Lee Alexander McQueen, bared through fashion, returned to home soil this Spring, at the V&A, for the much awaited Savage Beauty exhibition. This retrospective of the designer’s work was presented for the first time in Europe and staged in London; the epicentre of McQueen’s world.
Superbly curated, the V&A showcase fascinates and enthralls us with McQueen’s visual storytelling, delivering high drama and emotional charge through often explored themes, such as heritage, the natural world and fetishism. From his 1992 MA graduate show pieces to his unfinished A/W 2010 collection, McQueen dared to push boundaries, stimulating controversy through his innovative design, inspired thought and sheer unadulterated talent. Having worked with the McQueen design team for several years, we gained a clear understanding of the brand’s aesthetic and identity, often brainstorming presentation concepts with their VM team. It was an honour then, when we received a call from the V&A, briefing them to produce a series of bespoke mannequins to be used in a number of rooms within the exhibition layout.
Echoing McQueen’s unconventional style, we created mannequins and bustforms using raw materials, including papier-mache and natural wood. Injecting the bustform shapes with sentiment, our accomplished upholsters at distressed fabrics to a pre-loved and melancholy state, harmonising perfectly with the McQueen aesthetic. Deconstructing THEORY; our offbeat, edgy female fashion mannequin collection; (which incidentally was inspired by east London’s, quirky fashion scene), our development team made alterations to the mannequin’s body shape with precision and skill; to allow each outfit to hang flawlessly.
Over the years we have developed a solid relationship with the V&A’s conservators, working closely on many and varied commissions, building an understanding and inate respect of each others knowledge in their respective areas of expertise.
Paying homage to the designer’s legacy, the exhibition was fundamental to understanding and celebrating McQueen’s extraordinary brand of creativity, and reminded us how many other homegrown talents this city has produced. Housing many of McQueen’s iconic runway pieces, along with an amplified cabinet of curiosity, a beguiling 3D vision of Kate Moss and an experience even the most jaded of fashion enthusiasts could not fail to be overwhelmed by.