Ever dreamed of seeing Alexander McQueen’s exquisite creations up close? Well, be prepared to hyperventilate, as the British designer label is hosting a stunning free exhibition on the top floor of its Old Bond Street, London flagship dedicated to the fashion houses’ ongoing love affair with the symbolism of flowers.
Unlike the V&A’s Savage Beauty exhibition, which featured more than 300 pieces, this is an intimate display featuring a selection of haute couture pieces inspired by the form and energy of flowers, spanning more than a decade of design – from Lee McQueen’s spring/summer 2007 ‘Sarabande’ collection to the current creative director Sarah Burton’s spring/summer 2020 collection.
The centrepieces of the exhibition are the swirling red rose dress that walked as the finale of the autumn/winter 2019 by Burton and the poetic dress Lee McQueen constructed with fresh flowers for the end of the Sarabande spring/summer 2007 show, these sit alongside pieces that have flowers and petals trapped between layers of tulle or spilling from necklines and cuffs, which is whimsical and magical to see up close.
The exhibition is much more than just about showcasing incredible fashion, it is also dedicated to blossoming new talent, with samples of work-in-progress and background research arranged around a studio cutting table, at which practical masterclasses and interactive discussions with students will take place.
While I may not be studying fashion design, I’m obsessed with the processes in which haute couture gowns are made, the time, the detailing, and I loved seeing the step-by-step fitting imagery, reading all the label tags attached to each look, detailing the techniques used, the fabrics, and which collection the look came from.
Sarah Burton also shares the memories behind each collection, from team field-trips to gardens, historical houses, and museums, to the crucial hands-on parts played by the fabric and embroidery teams.
This is an exhibition that has been curated for the fashion geek and I’m totally on board for that, I love that they’ve opened up their archive and shared the unique working processes of an iconic fashion house, I wish more would be more inclusive and share their vision and creativity.
My Favourite Alexander McQueen gowns from the ‘Roses’ exhibition
First up, these two dresses above made me gasp aloud, the bold fuchsia pink exploded flower dress from the autumn/winter 2012 collection, made from multiple layers of silk organza, pleated and shredded by hand, and the incredible Sarabande finale dress from spring/summer 2007, which was a mix of fresh roses, hydrangeas and silk organza flowers, has been restored with hand-dyed silk organza flowers in delicate hues of lavender, Eau de Nil and pale pink. Simply both pieces are works of art.
Then we have the Golden Queen Bee corseted tulle dress, below, from the spring/summer 2013 with an embroidered cage adorned with goldwork
honeycomb techniques, 3D flower applique, gold thread and beadwork.
And from the same collection, the stunning honeycomb-patterned yellow and black silk organza hive jacquard dresses (above). These gowns have been hand-smocked in a honeycomb pattern over a silk tulle and net corset with a mix of goldwork embroidery techniques. The up-close view was incredible to see, the detailed craftsmanship, and the
My final pick, below, because basically if I don’t stop now I will give you detailed information about each look, if only I had time, is the stunning hand-pleated, hand-cut, spiked lower dress in dégradé flax flower blue silk gauze organza from spring/summer 2020, which were inspired by the incredible autumn/winter 2012 pleated and shredded organza creations.
The exhibition is on for the next couple of months, there doesn’t seem a set end date and I can’t stress how beautiful it is, and do chat to the staff when walking around as they are so knowledgeable about the pieces and shared so much more insight than what was on display. Also, don’t forget to pick up a special ‘Roses’ poster that was created just for the installation.
‘Roses’ exhibition at Alexander McQueen 27 Old Bond Street, London.
Loved the Alexander McQueen exhibition and need more – just watch this incredible step-by-step demonstration on how the swirling red Rose dress was constructed by Alexander McQueen’s Head of Atelier, Judy Halil.