On this rainy Saturday before Independence Day, my boyfriend and I sauntered over to the Metropolitan Museum to take in the Alexander McQueen Exhibit. We assumed that the unusually large crowd was due to the inclement weather and tourists here for the holiday. After making our way into the museum, I realized that the late designer and the central role of his Design House in the Royal Wedding had something to do with the throngs of people. In speaking with some of the security guards they said they’d not seen such lines in more than a decade. I felt a little bashful about moving through the “member’s” line to see the exhibit, while the visitors’ line snaked throughout the building. In speaking with some people taking in the exhibit, I realize that the curiosity about McQueen—the self-proclaimed romantic schizophrenic –is most certainly connected to Sarah Burton’s creation of the Royal Wedding Dress. Burton, a deputy of McQueen for 16 years, assumed the helm of his design house after McQueen’s suicide in 2010.
Thomas Campbell, the Director of the Metropolitan Museum, and Andrew Bolton, the curator of the exhibit, must have been delirious when they learned the news that it was the House of McQueen that was selected to design the historic gown for Kate Middleton. In addition to the wedding dress, Sarah Burton designed the second gown worn by the Duchess of Cambridge at the post-wedding celebration, as well as the much-admired “bridesmaid” gown of Pippa Middleton.
The Met exhibit “Savage Beauty” featured some of McQueen’s most iconic designs, both garments and accessories. While these visions were outlandish to conventional patrons like me, there were glimpses of the romance that most certainly connected McQueen with Sarah Burton’s vision of the Royal Wedding of the century. Visiting the exhibit was a fascinating reminder of the intrigue and passion inspired by the classic gown worn by the future Queen of England, which was part of the legacy of McQueen who left us at age 40.