It was with much anticipation and excitement that the 5th and 6th Year Art students set off for London to see the sold out Alexander McQueen retrospective in the V&A. 'Savage Beauty' was a wholly brilliant and absorbing experience. The rooms are categorised by visual theme and tell two stories side by side: that of McQueen’s career and of what it was like to go to a McQueen catwalk show.
The highlight for many was The Cabinet of Curiosities, a room that seems infinitely tall, crammed with a multitude of exotic and intoxicating McQueen creations. A headpiece in the shape of a peacock, a skirt constructed like a foldable wooden fan embroidered with intricate punch-holes and a medieval suit of armour made of crystal are only some of the pieces we were fascinated to experience. At the centre of the room, the Spray Paint Dress in which Shalom Harlow was decorated by robots at the finale of a show rotates on a mannequin. This creation typifies McQueen's creativity and imagination as he transcends the boundaries between art and fashion.
Another piece that could only be described as art, is the moving and hypnotic Pepper’s Ghost. It is an illusion, in which a fairy-sized vision of Kate Moss is conjured up out of thin air by a Victorian technique using projectors and mirrors. The installation is arresting in its simplicity and ephemeral beauty. The depth and variety of work on show will provide wonderful context for the Art Appreciation section of the Leaving Cert Art History Exam.
After lunch we took a tour of the permanent collection of the V&A. It was then time for shopping and dinner before a sleepy flight home. Despite the early start, forty fashion fans returned home from London exhilarated by the fantastic day and showstopper exhibition.