The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) always has a wide range of incredible exhibitions.
From Picasso to Kaws and Andy Warhol. NGV has also offered several exhibitions relating to clothing designers, such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Gabrielle Chanel, and Christian Dior, just to name a few. Now, in 2023, the NGV have an entire exhibition dedicated to the late, great Alexander McQueen titled; Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse.
Born in 1969 and died tragically in 2010, just short of his 41st birthday, Alexander McQueen started his own label in 1992. In a professional career that spanned only 18 years, McQueen’s work has had a huge impact on the fashion industry in such a small period of time.
In conjunction with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the NGV has acquired over 120 original garments and accessories such as gorgeous headpieces, shoes, and jewellery. Accompanying these stunning technical displays of tailoring and dressmaking are over 80 pieces of artwork that include paintings, photography, decretive arts, and even sculptures.
As I meandered my way through the crowds to take in each piece, it was clear that each section of the gallery had its own theme. From the colour of the walls to the lighting, and even the sound. About halfway through the gallery, I entered a space that was slightly elevated above the rest of the gallery and was accessible by a small ramp. The walls were painted in a dark grey pattern that resembled clouds. As I entered the raised platform, two sets of garments were on either side, all in the theme of birds, flight, and butterflies. The butterfly headpiece was even moving!
There is even a section that was completely void of clothing all together. A singular passageway with large photographs. A behind the scenes look at some of the many fashion shows that McQueen had. All were stunningly theatrical and unique in their own way. The sound of a deep club beat, flashing lights and even a random camera shutter made it feel like I was backstage with the models and designers.
Moreso, I appreciated the effort and though that went into the display of art from throughout history, that not only has a story of its own, but is perfectly paired with each set of McQueen’s works. It is one thing to admire the exquisite garments on their own, but the historical artifacts next to them really helped me understand McQueen’s thought process behind what he was creating.
It is easy to just put clothes onto mannequins for people to see, but the NGV went above and beyond to carefully curate and create an immersive experience. I spent just under three hours at this exhibition and I could have easily spent more time there. Each piece has so much detail, it was hard not to examine them all up close. Hand stitched beads to resemble moss on a tree, elegant gold gowns and even leather resembling garments of medieval times, McQueen’s range was incredible.
It is extremely tragic that Alexander McQueen felt the need to tragically take his own life. He had achieved so much greatness in such a short amount of time. I cannot even fathom what works he still had to create and share with the world.
Whilst he is gone, his work has inspired many others to not only enter the fashion industry but carry on his legacy through their own creations. Hopefully this exhibition will re-ignite someone’s passion for fashion or even inspire someone new to create something just as special as McQueen did.
Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse is now on at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria – International. The exhibition runs until the 16th of April 2023.
For more information and tickets, please visit the NGV website here: