Savage Beauty: A Look at Alexander McQueen’s Best Moments

On May 4th, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, a new exhibit at the Costume Institute featuring the work of the late fashion designer. McQueen’s shows have featured an insane asylum theme, women wrapped in plastic, and fake electrocutions. His “Highland Rape” show featured disheveled models in ripped clothes. In another show, a double amputee model with custom carved wooden legs strutted down the catwalk. Because of his predilection for dark and controversial subject matter, McQueen has been known alternately as the hooligan of English fashion and l’enfant terrible. But while he thrived on being provocative, McQueen was also a shrewd businessman who transformed catwalk shows into blockbuster events with heavy social and political undertones. In homage to the show at the Costume Institute, following is a selection of our favorite moments from his career.

Spring/Summer 1996

McQueen was known for his impeccable tailoring. He dropped out of school at age 16 to apprentice at Savile Row, where his clients included Prince Charles and Mikhail Gorbachev. And he startled audiences in his break-out show in 1992 with obstreperously low-cut pants called the “bumster trouser.” His Spring/Summer 1996 collection, shown above, featured his signature intrepid tailoring with equally surprising results. In 1996 McQueen was appointed chief designer at Givenchy, succeeding John Galliano. Although he remained there for five years, the relationship with the fashion house was strained as he never felt he had the creative freedom he desired.