More than 480,000 people visited Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A, making it the most visited paid-for exhibition at the Museum ever. The exhibition was the only major UK retrospective of the work of the visionary fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen, widely celebrated as one of the most innovative designers of his generation.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty was originally presented at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2010. The exhibition has been open at the V&A since 14 March, operating for more than 1,000 hours for public opening and private events. Visitors have attended from 87 countries internationally, drawn primarily from the US and Europe but also including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cayman Islands, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Kazakhstan, Mauritius, Namibia, Senegal, Suriname and Uzbekistan. Within the UK, people have travelled from Orkney in Scotland, Helston in Cornwall, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands to see it.
The exhibition, which closed on Sunday, looked at how McQueen combined a profound grasp of tailoring and eclectic range of influences with a relentless pursuit to challenge the boundaries of art and fashion, has attracted a range of high profile visitors. These include Lady Gaga, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West, Kendal Jenner, Adele, Sam Smith, Alex James, Stella McCartney, Maria Sharapova, RuPaul, Sam and Aaron Taylor Johnson, Richard E Grant, Matt Bellamy, Lorde and Tom Dixon.
Several prominent guests that attended the opening events included Sarah Burton, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, David and Victoria Beckham, FKA Twigs, Salma Hayek Pinault, Colin and Livia Firth, HRH Princess Beatrice, Rupert Friend, Aimee Mullins, Eva Herzigova, Katy England and Bobby Gillespie, Daisy Lowe, Natalie Dormer, Jeremy Irons and Sadie Frost. Some 2.3 million people have viewed the exhibition webpages and the specially commissioned interactive web feature ‘The Museum of Savage Beauty’ which provides an insight into the techniques, inspiration and stories behind some objects has been visited 134,000 times. As one of the few ways of guaranteeing entry to the exhibition, membership to the V&A has also received a boost with 10,000 new members joining during the exhibition run, taking the Friends of the V&A to a total of 75,000 members.
The catalogue accompanying the exhibition Alexander McQueen (edited by Claire Wilcox. £45, hardback), is now officially the V&A’s most successful publication, with more than 60,000 copies sold and currently featuring in the UK’s top ten non-fiction bestsellers chart. During the course of the exhibition, it is estimated the V&A Shop will took delivery of 108 tonnes of catalogues. The V&A Shop has also sold more than 1,250 metres of Alexander McQueen limited edition silk scarves and 93,000 postcards. The V&A was one of the first museums to show McQueen’s work in 1997. He was represented in the Fashion in Motion series in 1999 and with Shaun Leane in 2001, and was one of 11 designers represented in the exhibition Radical Fashion in 2001 which showcased works from his Voss collection (S/S 2001).