One wonders why in the history of mankind, many genius's lives are cut short. You can name many artists who were at the top in their fields when they left this plane of existence early. Perhaps it is predestination that they were taken early as to rouse the rest of us to their life's work toward a message for mankind or it could be fatalism that they took on the dark side of mankind and found it so unbearable to manage that they burned out quickly and left us to marvel in their wake. This past Sunday I was privileged to get a glimpse inside Alexander McQueen's head and be bowled over by his wake.
Alexander Mcqueen, 17 March 1969 - 11 February 2010, was a genius, futuristic prophet, and fashion guru. A hint of this can be seen during an interview in 2010 in which he was talking about creating a fabric that could produce a new, 21st-century silhouette, he said; "what's in my head isn't feasible at this time. I'm trying to weave a fabric that goes from a structure into a chiffon, but the loom doesn't exist."
The Alexander McQueen "Savage Beauty" exhibition is a view of a man's work pulled from many cultures across time and space to create an epic story. The show has many symbols which one could find in human mythology, like the antlers on top of one model's head reminded me of the Celtic Horned God of the Forest, "Cernunnos," or a similar being in Native American culture. His use of feathers throughout his work reminded me of other artists that have similar signatures like painter Salvador Dali's "Crutches" or director/film-maker Guillermo Del Toro's "Eyes." Alexander's last collection "Plato's Atlantis" has some of the most inspiring and amazing clothes. I couldn't help wonder if somehow he had reached back across time and pulled the ideas out of the collective consciousness of what those in Atlantis wore before the cities destruction.
Alexander McQueen was a global Renaissance man when it came to understanding different cultures and the human body play between them i.e. China, Scotland, Africa, or America. He used this interplay between cultures to tell an amazing story. Like the other mediums; writing, music, acting, painting and so forth, storytelling can be done through fashion. I have found a new respect for fashion as an art after seeing this show. Peering inside the mind of a genius even one who is dead can bring inspiration, open up doors and change our lives and our thinking.
Overall what stands out most in this exhibit is Alexander's embrace of the dark side and in his work the juxtapose between the Light and Dark nature in mankind told through fashion. The greatest artists of our time are those who can embrace the dark side in mankind and show us the beauty and power in it. The Native American, Iroquois Shamans used to take on the power of a diseased spirit or the Dark Twin in the hopes of capturing and directing that energy for healing. They would reach into the darkness for power and control of chaos. The Shamans also say that the dark side reaches into the light to steal or destory the best minds. What is obvious is that the dark side reached into the light and took Alexander from us before his time.
If you did miss the exhibit you can catch a summary of the collection on You Tube narrated by Andrew Bolton the currator of the collection.