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August 22 2014

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10 posts tagged "The Metropolitan Museum of Art"

Tim Blanks Looks Back At The Costume Institute’s Record-Breaking Alexander McQueen Show

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On a Sunday night 20 years ago, Lee McQueen stood outside now-legendary gay London club night FF facing down Suzie Krueger, the doorperson who was quite as terrifying as her namesake Freddy. With his shaved head and his chunky frame shoe-horned into a Ben Sherman shirt (not to mention teeth that hadn’t seen brush or paste since the dawn of man), Lee looked like a right hard skinhead. Except Krueger didn’t believe he was gay. “Prove it,” she snarled. “Kiss that boy over there,” indicating a random punter in the queue. So what do you think Lee did next?

I know why that memory surfaced while I was wending my way through the Met’s McQueen exhibition on its last Saturday, one of the 661,509 visitors who made the show an unprecedented phenomenon. The image of lumbering Lee inflicting his lack of dental hygiene on a hapless stranger outside a long-gone London club underlined how equally unprecedented his two-decade arc was: from Saint Martins student to the stuff of legend, capable of galvanizing the same vast and indefinable cross section of the general public who would turn out for King Tut or the Mona Lisa. And for the same reason—they all offered windows into a mysterious, transcendent world where the act of creation defied mere human comprehension. The old saw—it’s just clothes—simply didn’t apply to McQueen (though there was one soul who insisted on querying the “wearability” of everything while I was walking round). I doubt that many of the Met’s visitors would have known much about Lee the Skinhead, but they might have recognized him in the questing iconoclasm of Alexander the Celebrated Designer, whose words throughout the show amounted to a manifesto in mesmerizing flux, right up to that bitter end. McQueen was a man at war with himself, and the battle was being waged right before our eyes in all the opulent, tattered, gilded, and tarnished surfaces of the show. That kind of Sturm und Drang has often made for record-breaking box office in everything from opera to celluloid epics. It was made even more persuasive here by the heart-breaking immediacy of McQueen’s own history. He was a boy, for God’s sake.

I thought curator Andrew Bolton captured the flux, the battle, and the boy brilliantly. The decision to focus on groups of outfits from single collections offered a more detailed insight into McQueen’s many states of mind over the years than the standard bit-of-everything overview. And the Met’s soaring salons were so successfully turned into physical projections of those states of mind—exactly what McQueen himself used to do with his shows—that my breath was well and truly taken, perhaps most of all by the room of rough-hewn wood where the Highland Rape collection was displayed. The gaping split in the floor had the tinge of ominous horror that McQueen himself was so partial to. And then, to pass from that to a miniature Kate Moss whirling in hologram like the faerie queene…

There have been many times when I’ve sat through a fashion show and marveled at the madness of so much time, effort, and money being expended on ten minutes for a small group of fashion industry professionals. It’s been a privilege to be part of that, but I’d always imagine some twenty-first-century Diaghilev making a mint by taking such a show on the road, granting the power to dream to a much wider audience. The Met just proved it’s possible. And if McQueen and his corps of collaborators (whose work here is exhibition-worthy in its own right) were a rare breed, there are certainly deserving others to whom the Bolton Template could be applied. Which might make this weekend’s never-ending queues snaking down Fifth and into Central Park a vision of a new kind of future for fashion.

Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Body By Beckham, Midnight With McQueen, Rachel Zoe Takes On The Little Guys, And More…

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Victoria Beckham isn’t the only member of the family making moves on the fashion front. Hubby David has inked a new underwear deal with H&M, allowing you to suit up like Beckham. Bodywear, he’s offering—the body, alas, not included. [WWD]

Next weekend marks the final days of the Costume Institute’s Alexander McQueen exhibition. In honor of the grand finale, the museum has extended hours until midnight on Aug. 6 and 7 for one last look at the landmark retrospective. [WWD]

Now that Rachel Zoe is the mom to a bouncing baby boy, she’s got kids’ fashion on the brain—and if you ask her, it doesn’t measure up. The solution? Her own forthcoming children’s line. [Grazia Daily]

The Times takes on club dressing, querying bouncers as to what to wear to assure entry to New York nightspots. The velvet-rope minimum, according to some sources? Five-inch heels. [NYT]

Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Met Gala For 2011: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

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Samantha Cameron, or “SamCam” as she is affectionately known in the U.K., is one busy lady. In addition to her duties as wife of the Prime Minister, and mom, she’s also taken on the role of ambassador to the British Fashion Council. It’s in this role that the former head of Smythson and recent appointee to Vanity Fair‘s Best-Dressed List arrived at the Ritz bright and early this morning (despite last night’s party at 10 Downing Street) to introduce the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s director, Thomas P. Campbell, and Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton. The Met brass were on hand to lay out further details of the Met 2011 spring gala: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, chaired by Mr. and Mrs. François-Henri Pinault. (That Mrs. is, of course, otherwise known as Salma Hayek-Pinault.) Also in attendance were two of the ball’s co-chairs, Anna Wintour and Stella McCartney; the third, Colin Firth, is attending to awards season duties this week.

Sarah Burton, McQueen’s creative director and his right-hand woman for 14 years, was clearly emotional at the event—and understandably so. Not only was the venue the site of McQueen’s first post-graduate show, but the handful of pieces on display, including his calf-hair horned jacket and a gilded feather jacket (left), reminded everyone why McQueen was such a national treasure. SamCam gave McQueen his due gravity introducing the event: “We are so happy that one of America’s great institutions is supporting one of the U.K.’s most deeply talented designers, Alexander McQueen,” she said from the podium. Bolton, for his part, agreed wholeheartedly; McQueen, he said, was an “easy sell” for the theme, especially given the late designer’s tremendous body of work. Click at left to see more pieces from the show’s catalogue, shot by Sølve Sundsbø. Continue Reading “The Met Gala For 2011: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” »

Calder Calling

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Best known for his abstract mobiles (an art form he’s credited with inventing) and swooping, geometric sculptures, Alexander Calder had a more delicate artistic fascination he returned to throughout his career: jewelry making. Opening today through March 1 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is Calder Jewelry, the first major exhibition dedicated wholly to the artist’s wearable art. Working primarily in brass, silver, and gold, Calder was an early adopter of the found-object trend in jewelry design, adorning his pieces with beach glass, ceramic shards, and wood. The 90 pieces on display are a small sample of the close to 1,800 necklaces, cuffs, earrings, and brooches he created throughout his lifetime. The designs are sculptural, to be sure, but they are whimsical and, for a woman with moxie, wearable. (Not for sale, sadly, but that’s what Art Basel was for, right?) For a downtown complement to the wearable art trend, Zerocarat opens at the Friedman Benda gallery in Chelsea this Thursday. Zerocarat (get it?) features jewelry from artists and architects—Louise Bourgeois, Anish Kapoor, and Kenny Scharf among them. The show will be on view until January 9, 2009.

Photo: Courtesy of Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Love at First Sight: Egyptian Gold Tube Bracelet

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What: Treasures from the tomb

Why: I’m into ‘da Nile. Egyptomania is a trend that surfaced at Resort (Marchesa) and reached critical mass during the Spring collections.

Where: $65, available at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Shop and www.metmuseum.org.