McQueen who grew up in London’s East End made the town the epicentre of his work. Ten rooms in the V&A showcase the dominant themes and concepts within McQueen’s body of work. Many of the rooms have dim lighting with music or footage from his catwalk shows. The sections are built around garments that span the breadth of McQueen’s collections from his MA graduate collection in 1992 to his unfinished 2010 collection.
Throughout his career, McQueen loved to push craftsmanship to its creative limits with designs that were largely about form, and how soft malleable fabrics can realise it. “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.
I want to create pieces that can be handed down like an heirloom”, he said.
The Cabinet of Curiosities forms the heart of the exhibition and is presented in a double-height gallery with 120 garments and accessories. Screens show film footage from his many catwalk presentations.
McQueen found a muse in Isabella Blow who introduced her protégé to Nadja Swarovski. The latter who sponsored the exhibition, opened his eyes to the creative potential of crystal.
Accompanying lectures were held during May and June including one with Sarah Burton, the creator of HRH The Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, on ‘Designing McQueen’.