Alexander McQueen’s Afterlife

Those who only know of Alexander McQueen as the name behind the most famous wedding dress in recent history will be in for a royal shock when they step inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s retrospective of McQueen’s career. Nowhere will one find anything resembling Kate Middleton’s virginal attire on display. Instead, the collection begins on a deathly note with McQueen’s post-graduate collection Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims (1992) and concludes with his otherworldly posthumous collection Angels and Demons (autumn/winter 2010–11), which was shown after his suicide in February 2010.

McQueen once observed, “There’s something … kind of Edgar Allan Poe, kind of deep and kind of melancholic about [my] collections.” While walking through this exhibit, I felt like I was holding hands with a romantic schizophrenic who pranced around the thin line between life and death. Even though I have scant interest in the cult of celebrity that flocked to his shows, I found myself entranced by this self-proclaimed atheist’s exploration of fashion as a means to explore the themes of politics, culture, death and the afterlife.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty runs until July 31st.

Becky Garrison is a satirist/storyteller whose most recent book is Roger Williams’s Little Book of Virtues (Wipf & Stock, March 2020). Also, she edited Love, Always: Partners of Trans People on Intimacy, Challenge and Resilience (Transgress Press, 2015). Her six books include 2006’s Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church (PW, starred review).