Post-mortem achievements continue to immortalize dearly departed designer Alexander McQueen. The Metropolitan Museum of Art just announced that its enormously successful “Savage Beauty” exhibition — a thrillingly curated tribute to McQueen — has drawn 582,000 patrons since its May 4th launch, setting a new staggering record for any fashion endeavor in the museum’s history. This further confirms that the British designer, who committed suicide in February 2010, is in many ways, more popular than ever. As “Savage Beauty” ends its landmark run this weekend, the MET will stay open until midnight both August 6th and 7th, to accommodate the expected meteoric spike in audience demand.
As a relevant artistic powerhouse, the House of McQueen continues to thrive under the creative leadership of British designer Sarah Burton, who officially took McQueen’s place within the iconic design house just over a year ago. Burton’s collections for McQueen have enjoyed a preponderance of acclaim from the most elite fashion press, while her custom designed wedding gown for Kate Middleton scored universal accolades for its seamless synthesis of invention and wearability. It was a fairytale gown, for sure, but with a slightly unearthly twist. Invitingly, it was also as close to anarchy as the Royals were going to get (and that includes when Camilla Parker Bowles wore Vivienne Westwood). The union of McQueen and Middleton encapsulated its own singularly British matrimony — a moment equal parts ancient, modern, haunting, provocative, and special.
McQueen’s dichotomy of sophisticated subculturalism and unruly pageantry has long attracted drawn musicians, artists, and the general creative intelligentsia to the label — performers as diverse and distinct as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Davie Bowie, Patti Smith, and Björk are all among his ever present loyal. In 2009’s instantly generation-defining “Bad Romance” video clip, Lady Gaga serves as McQueen’s ultimate musical ambassador, even introducing his infamous “Armadillo” heels to a mass audience.
Fittingly, the freshly unveiled imagery of the Fall 2011 McQueen print ad campaign (hitting newstands this month) strikes a unsettlingly beautiful and violent chord that feels ceremonious enough for its own music video or short film. The sequence, shot by David Sims, features the statuesque Raquel Zimmerman in a series of post-apocalyptic Middle Earth cameos, before literally combusting into flames — an astonishing moment that is eerily evocative of Lord Voldemort’s downfall in the final Harry Potter film, as well as other dramatic exits Gaga herself has explored.
The other still-emergent campaign previews continue the chilling spectre, pitting proverbial Ice Queens against nature in a feat of sci-fi wizardry. It’s a gripping marriage of technology and ancient ritualism — two key rubrics that still provide the core columns of McQueen’s legacy. It’s also the way big budget music videos used to look when it was time to make an epic visual statement. And perhaps, the way they’ll be inspired to look again if McQueen’s ever-strengthening legion of musical allies is anything to go by.