Savage Beauty @ V&A…

He was the vision of the future of fashion. That was what Alexander McQueen was for me. His tragic death in 2010 ended my passion for runway fashion and I am still in mourning for his creativity. Every collection he sent down on the catwalk was eagerly awaited and it rarely disappointed me. However, the joy abruptly ended on one cold February day. 

When Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, hosted the original Savage Beauty exhibition in 2011, there was a whirl of spontaneous demand for a similar show to be held in the UK. After all, he was a British designer and his work should be celebrated in his native country, that was the consensus among the general public. There was an online petition for the exhibition and I signed up, prayinging if the V&A may relent to the idea.

During the summer of 2013, there was a rumour that the museum was planning the show and I was overjoyed. And then, the confirmation arrived finally as the V&A official announced that they were to host a retrospective exhibition of the late designer, Savage Beauty, from 14 March – 02 August 2015.

Same as the rest of general public, I never saw his real high-end couture until I visited the exhibition, Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! at Somerset House, Strand. Isabella’s inimitable style was completed with hats by Philip Tracy and frocks by Alexander McQueen. The result was an epitome of fantastic eccentricity which was to become her public persona. 

The exhibition was a poignant reminder of the loss of the two very special individuals, Isabella and McQueen. As I circulated the dimly lit gallery, I mourned how present fashion world lacked originality, gusto, calibre and excitement without them…


  
A V&A member’s magazine. 

I visited the exhibition twice already – the first time, with my dear friend Heza and the second time, with my teammate, Cælin. On both occasions, the galleries were packed with a predominantly female audience. The exhibits consisted of his pre-Givenchy collection to the last one shown after his death. It was wonderful to see the actual garments at last because until then I had to content myself with the photos in the runway reports and to use my imagination. I could admire the silhouette of his exquisitely cut suits and frocks but had no way to know how they were made and with what.

The only thought in my mind when I pushed the door to leave the exhibition was how much I missed his design and creativity since his death on that February day. I would have loved to see his vision evolving to provoke and inspire even more. He was one of a kind. An irreplaceable genius…

  

It’s such an irony that I would never have this opportunity to see the real McQueen’s creations if he was still alive. How I wished if he had survived and kept on producing his ethereal beauty. I would have been much happier if his frocks were beyond my reach…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Isabella Blow @ Somerset House

Hubbie is singing non-stop and giving me a headache. I don’t want to hurt his feeling so keep my mouth shut. But he is so out of tune. Please HELP!

Belatedly, I visited a highly acclaimed exhibition dedicated to late Isabella Blow at Somerset House on Strand last Wednesday.
I meant to see it sooner but the trip to Japan and the colds I had after that held me back. Since the show would close this weekend, I thought I couldn’t delay any longer, so booked a ticket and off I went.

No more ice rink until next winter. The square looked bare but also it was a definite sign of the approaching spring and it made me happy…

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Photographing was prohibited so there was no image of the inside of the exhibition “Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!”…

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The first space was filled with old family photographs and newspaper clippings, depicting her early life and a complicated relationship with her aristocratic parents. I did know about her career in fashion but not so much about her private background. Therefore, listening to her, recounting how she was brought up in the shadow of her parents’ manor while longing for the luxury and opulence her pre-war ancestors must have enjoyed, was interesting and poignant. One of the exhibit was her interview film and in the centre of the frame was her family’s history book. From ime to time, her pale hand with a colossal bracelet on its wrist appeared and pointed at certain parts of the photographs, describing how the remnants of the bygone time haunted her and her family. It was the first time I heard about her less than ideal upbringing in her own voice and it endeared her to me. I felt sorry for her.

The rest of the exhibition was simply divine. I feasted my eyes on one-of-a-kind creations by Philip Treacy and Alexander McQueen. The craftsmanship which involved to create them was awe-inspiring and I just couldn’t help ogling every detail from all angles. Materials, applications and executions, everything was exquisite. I understood why Isabella Blow was so taken by it. No offence to Mr.Valentino’s retrospective exhibition at the same venue last year but I was moved by this show more. The world Isabella helped to create with talented British designers was hauntingly beautiful and definitely one-of-a-kind. And I was very grateful to the people, explicitly to Daphne Guinness, who made this exhibition possible. She not only rescued Isabella’s entire collection from being auctioned off and lost forever but also shared it with us, showing the particular luxury and opulence the late Isabella aspired and practiced throughout her life…

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By the way, did you know that I met Isabella Blow in the fresh once? My brief encounter with “The Hat” – apparently the late Princess Margaret nicknamed her as such – was at the Design Museum on Shad Thames. The museum was hosting “When Philip Met Isabella”, a show featuring Mr.Treacy and his famous mentor. As I was at their riverfront cafe and happened to look up from my cup of latte, there she was, Mrs.Blow was standing by the till with an elaborate but not so stupendous headgear, waiting for espresso. I remembered how awkward she looked. While the rest of us clad in jeans and sneakers, she was donning a hat, a pencil skirt and court shoes like a lady out of the thirties’ silver screen.
Without her and her beloved Mr.McQueen, the world had definitely become less beautiful and more mundane and I moaned their absence very very much…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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