An Australian first, the NGV puts on a comprehensive exhibition on Alexander McQueen

We spoke to Katie Sommerville, Senior Curator Fashion & Textile at the NGV about this major exhibition.

Known for his groundbreaking, highly conceptual designs that set him apart from his peers, an exhibition dedicated to the extraordinary fashion designer Alexander McQueen will appear at the NGV this summer. With more than 100 pieces of clothing and accessories, in addition to more than 70 works of art, including painting, sculpture, photography, works on paper and decorative arts, from a variety of eras and cultures, Alexander McQueen: Ghost, Myths, Muse offers unprecedented insight into McQueen’s far-reaching sources of inspiration, his creative process and his ability to tell stories.

“The approach we’re taking with this exhibit is that it’s not so much a classic retrospective,” says Katie Sommerville of her process of curating this exhibit. “We really explore the whole nature of his creative output, both in terms of his extraordinary technical ability – he originally trained on Saville Row as a young man – and then in a theater costume production company before founding his label.”

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“He’s one of those incredible designers who is not only pretty amazing conceptually, in terms of what he’s bought as an inheritance, but the pieces themselves, from a tailor’s point of view, are structurally amazing works of art.”

Alexander McQueen: Ghost, Myths, Muse takes into account the varied inspirations of Alexander McQueen by displaying painting, sculpture and photography in addition to his fashion works. An impressive collection of more than 110 designs by McQueen herself, the comprehensive exhibit represents a collaboration between the NGV and LACMA in the United States.

“The NGV has been collecting and exhibiting fashion for a long time so that in itself is nothing new, but we have been taking over Alexander McQueen for over 25 years now – we bought the first works of his from his London studio in 1996 and now we are have about 50 works that we will include in the exhibition.”

“Along with the 50 works in our collection, we have joined forces with the LA County Museum of Art in Los Angeles – they have the most extraordinary, the most impressive collection of McQueen in a public collection in North America. Between the two institutions, we have come up with a very impressive exhibition with more than 110 works by Alexander McQueen.”

“We have items from when he started his career in the early 90s, through 2010 – we have works from 25 of his collections during that period, it’s very extensive. The earliest work we have of him is from 1994 and the latest work is from 2010.”

Alexander McQueen: Ghost, Myths, Muse takes over the NGV International between Sunday 11 December 2022 and Sunday 16 April 2023. Read more here and book tickets.

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