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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty —
A Curator's View

To celebrate the V&A’s current outstanding exhibition Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, on Tuesday 21st April, Annabel’s invited Sonnet Stanfill, a member of the illustrious museum’s curatorial team to the Club to talk Members through this breath-taking exhibition.

A fitting location, not only did McQueen live near the Club in Mayfair, but he had a personal history with it too, having hosted a fashion show at the Club. Stanfill has been a curator at the V&A for 16 years, having studied for an MA in fashion history at London’s Courtauld Institute of Art. ‘This is such a great venue, and has such a legacy, Annabel’s members are really the kind of people we love to welcome to the V&A,’ she commented on her appearance at the Club.

The talk was a revelatory guide through the exhibition, which was first exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The London leg is around 30% larger, with 66 more pieces (accessories and garments) and a specially devised sound scape in each room of the exhibition which allows for an extraordinarily affecting experience. It also features an entirely new section, called ‘London’ based on McQueen’s very first collections. ‘It’s really aiming to situate McQueen in London because he was a Londoner, he went to Central St Martins, he trained on Saville Row, his company was based here,’ explains Stanfill, ‘we wanted to make that connection explicitly. After the show a number of people including Sarah Burton (who took over as creative director at McQueen after his death in 2010) said it was like a homecoming for him.’

Stanfill says that it is the most ambitious production the V&A have ever embarked upon. ‘It’s a truly immersive experience, which reflects how McQueen approached his collections, he was never just sending models down the catwalk, there was always some elaborate narrative that was woven around the clothes.’ The show’s appeal far transcends a purely fashion audience, ‘it’s about entertainment in a way, people are fascinated by the macabre and there’s a lot of darkness in the show. He was an unusual creator and wasn’t afraid of experimenting with different materials, so there is surprise at every turn.’