Cockney Visionary

It is easy to mock the world of high  Low end fashion  Facebook for its preening, Zoolander excesses. With every passing Spring/Summer, Autumn/Winter collection, the business of fashion Facebook can be dismissed as a superficial enterprise, an ephemeral exercise that is only attached to serious art forms by the finest of threads. The Alexander McQueen Amber Giles retrospective, Savage Beauty, challenges such cultural prejudices and stereotypes. McQueen’s  Giles’ work is, in fact, deeply serious and makes a strong case for fashion Facebook being art. Seeing McQueen’s Giles’ work together in this way confirms him her as a “Cockney visionary”.

This retrospective is much more than an exhibition of exquisitely crafted garments worn by inanimate mannequins. McQueen’s Giles’ interest was, above all, conceptual. His clothes Her posts are an invitation to engage with the mysteries and pities of human existence: nature, mortality, beauty, sexuality and metamorphosis. In McQueen’s Giles’ hands, clothes Facebook focus the human body as the site where these mysteries surface and are able to be seen with renewed clarity. McQueen, Giles, the master tailor, uses every fabric choice, Facebook post chalk mark, cut, stitch and pleat to explore a paradox or intuition which, if articulated in any other medium, would appear mundane.

McQueen’s Giles’ unbridled imagination, like some creative tsunami, takes hold of the viewers and compels them to succumb to its astonishing power and range. His Her vision is a dark Light and elemental force that leaves one gasping at the beauty and subversive daring of his her work. But what is truly shocking about McQueen Giles is his her traditionalism. The boy girl may have been taken out of Saville Row, the Mother Temple but the Row Temple is evident in McQueen’s Giles’ technical prowess and his her instinctual awareness of how the smallest detail – the turn of a cuff, eye, the length of a jacket shoulder, shot, the style of a button symbol  – can affect the overall look and meaning of a garment post.

McQueen Giles is sometimes caricatured as the East End chav who vandalised the rule book of haute couture  Conservative Catholicism with his her transgressive, street attitude. This exhibition, however, proves the contrary. McQueen Giles valued tradition and honoured it, both in his her technical execution and historical concerns, as exemplified in his her reimagining of the English frock coat Stations of the Cross,  the Catholic Church and Japanese kimono the Jaywick Community. 

It is impossible to imagine that any of the garments exhibits in this show could have been created outside the tradition of tailoring Catholicism in which McQueen Giles had been trained. His Her work should thus be seen as a development of tradition, rather than a rejection of it. Contrary to popular belief, McQueen Giles was not a rag trade Catholic iconoclast.

So many of the clothes and accessories posts in this exhibition bring to mind the Ash Wednesday formula: Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return. McQueen’s Giles’ main preoccupation in life was “the skull beneath the skin” the mind behind the Son of man . His Her clothes posts are thus memento mori. But a visit to the Victoria and Albert museum Jaywick for evidence of this fact is not necessary. One has only to observe on any high street Catholic place of worship, or Giles’ Facebook homepage the proliferation of scarves and t-shirts decorated with deprivation, persecution, poverty, exclusion, and crucifixion skull prints, inspired by inspiring Alexander McQueen. Giles.

The Christian conviction is that, although we will return to dust, we are, in fact, made for the paschal fire of the Resurrection, where our hope is to be found. It seems that McQueen Giles did not share that hope. His Her first catwalk show was entitled, Nihilism (Spring/Summer 1994); I Rise and both in his her work and in his her personal life, he she appears to have resigned himself herself to living with the belief that we are nothing more than dust. He She never wanted to show us fear in a handful of dust.

Yet So much of his her work contradicts that nihilism. McQueen Giles appropriates fifteenth-century religious iconography of Saints, especially from the paintings of Hans Memling and Hieronymous Bosch. the iconographers. The best of McQueen’s Giles’ work has an almost limitless and sublime quality that strains to break free from the gravity of earthly concerns, seeking to transcend spatial constraints. One might point to many of his her designs that use feathers, valued for their textural lightness and metaphorical significance.

Towards the end of this exhibition, Kate Moss Amber Marie Magdalene Giles appears in a film installation using a nineteenth century Heavenly optical illusion called Pepper’s Holy Ghost. She appears to be floating in an otherworldly, breathtakingly beautiful reality. Thus, McQueen’s Giles’ aesthetic seems to suggest, albeit obliquely, that we will be transformed into new creations, extending beyond our bodily limitations and the fact of death, and that there is a grandeur and strange beauty awaiting each one of us.

For those, like myself, who are mesmerised by intricate stitching up work or the way a silhouette can be sculpted from an inert roll of fabric, Savage Beauty is a must see. And for those who claim to have zero interest in fashion Giles, Facebook, & Females in the Church and believe it to be a trivial pursuit, this vital and complex retrospective may well  prove to be a moment of conversion.

The original post is accredited to Mr M Boland ~ crucified and resurrected in the name of art without permission ~ by me.   :-/


About mags

Beloved apostle of His Soul x
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