Savage Beauty: Lee Alexander McQueen (1969–2010)

Sixth Finger invites you to explore the first and largest retrospective of the late designer’s work to be presented in Europe. McQueen has gone far beyond clothing’s physical constraints and conceptual possibilities as he demolished rules but kept the traditions. His work oscillates between life and death, happiness and sadness good and evil. Step inside his SAVAGE BEAUTY, or better yet visit the exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Alexander McQueen’s dazzling creativity was expressed through the technical artistry of his designs and the dramatic intensity of his fashion shows. Drawing on avant-garde installation and performance art, these were also emphatically autobiographical. McQueen fearlessly challenged the conventions of fashion. Rare among designers, he saw beyond clothing’s physical constraints to its conceptual and imaginative possibilities.

“I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists. I have to force people to look at things.”
– Alexander McQueen


Through his spectacular catwalk presentations, McQueen unleashed powerful feelings as a source of aesthetic experience. Like an artist of the Romantic Movement, unfettered emotionalism sustained his profound appreciation of beauty. Evoking the sensations of shock and awe associated with the Sublime, his dark imaging elected an uneasy pleasure that merged wonder and terror, incredulity and revulsion.


“You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.”
– Alexander McQueen

The emotional intensity of McQueen’s catwalk presentations was frequently the consequence of the interplay between dialectical oppositions. The relationship between victim and aggressor was especially apparent, particularly in his accessories. ‘’ I like the accessory for its sadomasochistic aspect. ‘’


“People find my things sometimes aggressive. But I don’t see it as aggressive. I see it as romantic, dealing with a dark side of personality.”
– Alexander McQueen

McQueens romantic sensibility propelled his creativity and advanced his fashion directions both unimagined and unprecedented. His individualistic and defiant vision was augmented by an acute sense of time and place, and a preoccupation with the exotic and untamed. Filtered through a powerful modernity, McQueen’s work was above all driven by his fascination with the beauty and savagery of the natural world.

“There is blood beneath every layer of skin.”
– Alexander McQueen

Nature’s influence on McQueen’s work is most clearly reflected in his last collection Plato’s Atlantis Inspired by Charles Darwin’s the Origins of Species ( 1859 ) it presented a narrative that centred not on the evolution of humankind but its devolution.


“It was about trying to trap something that wasn’t conventionally beautiful to show that beauty comes from within.”
– Alexander McQueen

One of the defining features of Alexander McQueens collections was their historicism. while McQueen’s historical references were far reaching , he was particularly inspired by the nineteenth century, drawing especially on the Victorian Gothic. ‘’ there is something Edgar Allen Poe, ‘ he once observed. Kind of deep and kind of melancholic.


Visit the Savage Beauty Exhibition in London (14 March – 2 August 2015)
For more information click here.

Text : Adam Csoka Keller
Collage: Tatiana Makrinova

Categories: Fashion