Opening on December 11, the Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is set to unravel the life and work of one of fashion’s most beloved and eccentric designers.
McQueen is renowned for both his beautiful collections and his complicated psyche, with celebrated works and controversies going hand-in-hand throughout his career. The Mind, Mythos, Muse exhibition, organised by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in partnership with the NGV, traces an unprecedented odyssey of McQueen’s frenetic life, art, and death in an Australian first.
In the gallery, McQueen’s conceptual virtuosity and critically acclaimed dressmaking prowess is put on full display, as some 60 garments and accessories are placed alongside more than 70 of McQueen’s personal creations. Ranging from historical artworks and paintings to sculptures, photography, and works on paper, these pieces served as inspiration and motifs throughout his career, forming a reference point for his fashion throughout the exhibit.
Mind, Mythos, Muse offers something for everyone, from those interested in the creative processes of clothing’s conceptualisation, design, and production to those who find the history and personal re-telling of stories and myths more fascinating. For die-hard McQueen lovers, some of his most renowned and acclaimed collections are highlighted in this exhibition, from the controversial Highland Rape (Autumn-Winter 1995-1996) to the poetic Widows of Culloden (Autumn-Winter 2006-2007), Deliverance (Spring-Summer 2004), and his famed final work, Plato’s Atlantis (Summer 2010).
Alexander McQueen is beloved for his boundary-pushing and highly conceptual designs that set him apart from his contemporaries. With meticulous craftmanship and an intellectual rigour seldom seen on the runways before or since, he created a new vocabulary for fashion design that still resonates today.
Divided across four themes, each part of the exhibition plays a key role in unearthing the enigma that is Alexander McQueen. Mythos delves into mythological and religious belief systems, paying homage to the diverse cultures and historical artistic movements that inspired his life and designs. More introspectively, Fashioned Narratives delves into McQueen’s self-mythology, as through his world-building he grappled with past events in the modern day – many linked to and inspired by his own lineage.
As visitors move through the exhibit, they encounter Evolution and Existence, a section that examines McQueen’s fervour for the fragile human condition and our cycles of life, nature, evolution, and death. Finally, Technique and Innovation illuminates McQueen’s masterful and meticulous abilities in garment design, construction, and innovation, focusing on the physical creation of the pieces themselves.
The multifaceted nature of Alexander McQueen is difficult to capture in a single exhibit, but the NGV’s collection forms a potent exposition into the designer’s troubled yet glorious inner workings. His legacy is unforgettable, reaching far beyond the fashion industry, and that legacy is something visitors to Mind, Mythos, Muse are sure to understand a little more deeply.
I want to be the purveyor of a certain silhouette or a way of cutting, so that when I am dead and gone people will know that the twenty-first century was started by Alexander McQueen.
The Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse will run between December 11, 2022 and April 16, 2023.
To find out more about the Alexander McQueen exhibition, visit the NGV’s website here.