Last weekend – a long one indeed – I visited London in the hope of a royal birth and in the quest for some perfect lifestyle treats including dinner at Berners Tavern, Savoy Grill, and J.Sheekey, drinks at Langham Hotel’s Artesian Bar and Savoy Hotel’s American Bar, and above all exhibitions such as Fashion Rules at Kensington Palace with major decades of fashion adopted by Queen Elizabeth II, her sister Princess Margaret, and Princess Diana, as well as Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea at the Natural History Museum, my major goal – which was perfectly achieved from day one – being Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty at V&A.
I’ve seen a lot of the designer’s work in pictures and videos before, yet I was blown away by this grandiose and intricate mix of insane creative energy and extraordinary craftsmanship displayed through hundreds of his most representative pieces, clothes and accessories. It was a feast for the eyes and a one-of-a-kind experience, an exhibition curated like nothing else before, and an opportunity to recognize that he was probably the greatest creative genius in the history of fashion.
It was art, history and science, British tailoring elevated through haute couture techniques, unconventional materials and a purely conceptual approach to fashion. Things generally perceived as hugely provocative, repelling or shocking ended up being irresistibly attractive and beautiful. McQueen was not producing easy-to-sell fashions, yet he was miraculously one of the most commercially successful designers ever.
He stirred controversy, initiated the dialogue and celebrated the powerful role of imagination. Ideas such as the devolution of the world, the ephemeral nature of all materials, and the deconstruction of the form harmoniously juxtaposed with the meticulous structuring of the clothes, the preciousness and rareness of fabrics and embellishments, as well as the employment of all possible artisans manufacturing out of wood, metals and organic elements the most mind-blowing designs ever!
The Cabinet of Curiosities made me feel like an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that was trapped inside a world of fantasy and playfulness. It was really hard to get out of this room, and it was really hard to recover after such an intensely emotional experience! I woke up early to find a privileged post among the many waiting in line to get one of the 200 tickets available to the audience each day beyond those booked online, but it was totally worth it!
I could wait even more for such a breathtaking experience. After 3 hours wandering around the wonders of McQueen’s extraordinary mind, I got out almost hypnotized walking towards V&A’s beautiful garden in an effort to absorb and digest what I encountered back there. I changed completely my view on other designers and raised my expectations regarding fashion’s potential and actual role today.
We need to be creative in this industry in the way he was, and we need to bring fashion back to its roots as something aspirational, avant-garde, and visionary. Let’s skip rules, demolish conventions, exaggerate, provoke, and express ourselves in the most genuine manner! He taught us originality and boldness, and we should definitely take it from there and bring it to the next level!
Uniqueness, ingenuity, and inventiveness are always praised. Such things make a huge difference in our lives. Highlights from my trip further reinforce this point. I was pleasantly surprised at the Artesian Bar, when my drink arrived topped with a rather big pillow-shaped balloon hiding a tiny bottle of essence as the spicy addition to the cocktail’s interesting flavor!
I was moved by all these little tender details from the Victoria & Albert romance presented as part of another exhibit – Victoria Revealed – at Kensington Palace. It was a deeply personal approach to the life of a Queen who defined a whole era!
Live music at Savoy’s American Bar, a totally seductive seafood platter at J.Sheekey, and a super relaxing sunny siesta at Green Park after a long shopping session along Old and New Bond Street (Check Etro, Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Victoria’s Secret and ultra-precious jewelry stores) made my stay even more memorable! London is indeed a major fashion (and cultural) metropolis! You should definitely plan a visit over the next couple of months! As they might have said in their distinctly typical phrase ‘it’ll be lovely!’