The Makeup and Style of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Posted on April 04, 2015 under Thoughts

When I was in London last weekend, I had the chance to see Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Victoria and Albert museum (for free, thanks to Aisling‘s membership). I’d heard incredible things about the exhibition from those who had seen it at the Met in New York, and I was incredibly excited to go.

It did not disappoint. The exhibition was unbelievable – so well-curated and presented. Alexander McQueen was a visionary and his work speaks for itself, but the presentation of the exhibition was incredibly tasteful and atmospheric, lending itself to enhancing the garments without distracting from them.

No photos were allowed inside of the exhibition hall, but Aisling bought the accompanying book and I have some pictures to share from that, which I hope will help to capture the feeling and scope of the show.

savagebeauty2

savagebeauty3

savagebeauty4

savagebeauty7

savagebeauty10

savagebeauty12

savagebeauty23

For someone who is incredibly interested in the creation of an aesthetic sense of self, I found the show absolutely inspiring. McQueen’s imagination seemingly had no limits, something that’s obvious when you wander through room after room of extravagant, wild, and ultimately beautiful clothing. I’m reminded of when my friend Ashley said that “looking at textures, patterns, and colors in runway clothing is a great source of inspiration; I like thinking about how to recreate a certain mood.” All the pieces displayed throughout the exhibition were indeed incredibly moody, and I think would lend themselves well to beauty inspiration.

Aside from the idea of translating clothing into makeup looks, there’s also the hair and makeup itself. The book is chock full of beauty inspiration, from the soft and ethereal to the almost grotesque. There’s something for everyone, makeup-wise. I often love runway makeup for the same reason I love haute couture collections: there is no constraint of “wearability”, which allows us access to some of the most unrestrained creativity and artistry on the planet.

savagebeauty5

savagebeauty6

I love this graphic cut crease. I think it could be translated into a more wearable look!

savagebeauty8

savagebeauty9

savagebeauty11

savagebeauty13

savagebeauty14

savagebeauty15

I love these overdrawn black lips with the center not filled in – there’s something so unexpected about the fleshy colour in the center of the harsh geometric black.

savagebeauty16

savagebeauty17

savagebeauty18

savagebeauty19

savagebeauty20

savagebeauty21

Another very wearable look – a 60s-style modular cut crease.

savagebeauty22

savagebeauty24

I adore the shiny blood-red lips that go far past the natural lip line. It’s so animalistic. This makeup is the definition of “savage beauty”. I love that idea that if makeup and femininity are so tied up in each other, this look is about femininity going out of bounds, refusing to adhere to expectations.

There was a piece in the book about the makeup of the Alexander McQueen runway shows, which I found fascinating. It read almost as a visual analysis that you’d find in an art history or film class, deconstructing the makeup choices, their symbolism, how they contributed to the collections they were a part of, and what these choices say about femininity.

The show was amazing in itself, but as someone who obviously has quite an interest in beauty, I found it particularly inspiring.

The show is on at the V&A Museum in London until August 2. Tickets cost £17.60 (free for V&A members) and can be booked online. If you have the chance to go, I heartily recommend it – you won’t regret it.

There are 7 responses to “The Makeup and Style of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty”

  • Oh my god I was so gutted when I was in London over Feb/March that the exhibition started AFTER I left. I’m heading back hooopefully soon, but I don’t think I’ll make it there before August 2nd, so every time I see someone mention it on fb or blog about it, I die a little inside. IT MUST HAVE BEEN SO SO AMAZING!!!!!! Seeing your photos of the exhibition book makes me want to see it even more, gah!

      • I’m coming back in August/September because I’m doing my final semester of uni (finally!) in Dublin at UCD — so I will definitely be swinging by London first for friends. Buuuut August 2nd is ridiculously early in the month and I’m not sure if I’ll make it there so early, wahhh! If/when I book my flights and they arrive before the exhibition closes, I will be booking my tickets to those at the same time, haha!!

        • Ahhh, that’s awesome about Dublin! How exciting! I will cross my fingers that the timing works out for you – or maybe they’ll extend the exhibition if it’s popular? I was sure originally that it was meant to be on until July 19, so it seems like they’ve already extended it once.

Leave a Reply

Please feel free to leave a comment; I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post. Please don't leave a link to your blog in the body of your comment. If you leave your URL in the appropriate field in the form I will be able to click your name and check out your blog. Comments that don't adhere to this policy will be edited or deleted.