Alexander McQueen-Mania Sweeps Over London

Not just one, but three shows will celebrate the ill-fated fashion designer.

Alexander McQueen

Next month, not just one but three major Alexander McQueen exhibitions will open their doors in London to celebrate the life and work of the ill-fated London-born fashion designer.

The McQueen season will kick-off at Tate Britain, with “Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process,” a solo show by photographer Nick Waplington documenting the making process­—from inception to catwalk—of what turned out to be McQueen’s final fashion collection in 2009, the now-mythical “Horn of Plenty,” (see Tate Britain Will Show Intimate Photos Of Alexander McQueen).

“McQueen thought of ‘Horn of Plenty’ as a retrospective,” Isabella Maidment, co-curator of the Tate exhibition, told artnet News. “It’s clear that, for whatever reason, he wanted to look back on the work he had previously done. He recycled garments, fabrics, and references used in other collections. But he also invited previous collaborators and models. So he was obviously thinking about his legacy, and he was keen on documenting it. Whether that was simply to move on to a new body of work or not, we will never know.”

His “Dirty Massive Style”

Waplington, best known for his photographic work around class and conflict, was a friend of McQueen and although he had never shot fashion before, McQueen chose him for his “dirty, messy style.”

The project’s initial outcome was a book, which was published in 2013, three years after McQueen’s untimely death in 2010, aged 39. Now, the images will be displayed as large prints in a museum for the first time.

The fact that “Work in Process” also marks the first major solo exhibition by a living photographer at Tate, as well as the institution’s first foray into fashion, suggests that the museum is exploring new avenues. “’This show is a deliberate decision from Tate to appeal to a broader audience,” Maidment confirmed. “Its opening will follow on from London Fashion Week, which is a moment when there’s a lot of interest in fashion in the city, and we definitely want to build on that.”

Celebrating the Legacy of a Londoner

The timing is certainly appropriate, as the show will also coincide with the London run of “Savage Beauty” at the Victoria & Albert Museum (see Homecoming: Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty Finally Lands in London). When the exhibition first opened at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011, it was an extraordinary success, and Brits seem equally eager to celebrate the legacy of the globally-admired Londoner (see 16,000 Advance Tickets Sold for V&A’s Alexander McQueen Show and V&A to Print 50,000 More Tickets for “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty).

To top it all, SHOWstudio’s gallery is staging an exhibition of monumental prints of the editorials that revered fashion photographer Nick Knight made of McQueen’s fabulous creations for a number of fashion magazines, including Visionaire to Dazed & Confused.

“The thing about McQueen is that he’s got this fascinating personal story,” Maidment concluded. “That someone from an unprivileged background could end up working for Givenchy and triumphing in the fashion world  is a classic fairy-tale narrative that is incredibly appealing to everyone. But I think people also relate to how iconoclastic his vision was, how he managed to work within a restrictive establishment and do something radically new.”

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