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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

4.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,844 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
Arguably the most influential, imaginative, and provocative designer of his generation, Alexander McQueen both challenged and expanded fashion conventions to express ideas about race, class, sexuality, religion, and the environment. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty examines the full breadth of the designer’s career, from the start of his fledgling label to the triumphs of ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 31st 2011 by Metropolitan Museum of Art (first published January 1st 2011)
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5th out of 56 books — 44 voters
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Community Reviews

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Jan 06, 2013 Mike rated it it was amazing
I know basically nothing about fashion. I do know, though, that this book pulls off something kind of extraordinary: convincing me not only that McQueen deserved a posthumous retrospective at the Met (I was never much in doubt on that score) but also that McQueen was as pure and complete an artist as ever lived. He's Miles Davis. He's Van Gogh. McQueen was everything an artist should be: endlessly innovative, aware of the past and concerned for the future, literate, tireless, deeply invested in ...more
Mar 31, 2012 Laren rated it it was amazing
Of course you should see the Savage Beauty installation at the Met before you even glance at this book....It's a multi-sensory experience. Dark. Deep. Industrial. Colourful. Tailored. Baroque. Broken. Bumstered. Political. Poetical. Magical. Feathered. And eerie, windswept sounds come at you around every corner. The mannequins are masked and faceless and in that sense, they are everyone and one. In the book...well...humans become surreal. The installation is an extravaganza of theatre, ...more
N Yen
I first borrowed this book from the library.

Then I returned it, went on Bookdepository, and bought a copy. And waited in bated anticipation.

A spectacular "coffee-table" book, if you will. If you are more deeply into fashion and happen to love McQueen like I do, this is an incredible glossary and reference book to aid in your own projects. I love the detail and attention paid to this one, and the cover just takes my breath away! It is sturdy, feels raw and expensive, and of a fantastic size to ex
Jun 06, 2012 Alicia added it
This compilation of quotes and detailed photographs of McQueen's work is breathtaking. My favourite quotes: "There's blood beneath every layer of skin"; "I don't think like the average person on the street. I think quiet perversely sometimes"; "Life to me is a bit of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale"; "In this collection the idea was to turn people's faces on themselves. I wanted to turn it around and make them think, am I actually as good as what I'm looking at?"; "I'm a romantic schizophrenic";"Wom ...more
May 15, 2011 Grady rated it it was amazing
Fashion as Art

Alexander McQueen (17 March 1969 - 11 February 2010) was an icon in the fashion industry. He is currently the subject of a spectacular exhibition of his works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and this book serves as a catalogue for that exhibition. From the lenticular cover by Gary James McQueen ('Lenticular printing is a technology in which a lenticular lens is used to produce images with an illusion of depth, or the ability to change or move as the image is viewed from different
Apr 14, 2016 RB rated it really liked it
I should clarify that I know about as much regarding fashion as I do maintaining a yacht--so nothing. Nevertheless, I had been handed this book by a lovely person to browse through and so I did and thank you Emma. The designs, with a few exceptions (the underwater stuff, a few of the Highland rape designs etc.), are rather magnificent and often phantasmagoric, subverted, unexpected, twisted, dark, imaginative, and innovative. The collection inspired by Edgar Allan Poe I especially enjoyed. As fo ...more
Nov 24, 2014 yun added it

Mcqueen on "Highland Rape":
It's all about the way I'm feeling about my life. Scotland for me is a harsh, cold and bitter place. It was even worse when my great, great grandfather used to live there. I have no respect for what the English did there, they wiped whole families out. The reason I'm patriotic about Scotland is because I think it's been dealt a really hard hand. It's marketed the world over as… fucking haggis, fucking bagpipes. But no one ever puts anything back into it. I hate it when
Yuki Shimmyo
Nov 05, 2015 Yuki Shimmyo rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Giselle
Recommended to Yuki Shimmyo by: "Savage Beauty" exhibit at MMA
The installation curated by Andrew Bolton at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is absolutely wonderful, astonishing, extraordinary! I would give this book five stars if it contained photographs from the actual installation -- raw concrete stages, aged mirrors, Cabinet of Curiosities room, etc. This 8.5 minute video will give you a good overview of the "experience":

I took advantage of the extra hour to see the exhibit at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, and skip the queue
Feb 25, 2012 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Companion edition to the McQueen exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The majority of the content here is photographs of exhibition pieces, posed on mannequins, shown context-free save for occasional quotes from the designer. There are also some sets of smaller photographs that are live action shots from various runway presentations. It was tempting to jump right in and just look at the pictures, but I'm glad I read the preface and introduction first - they were crucial for background a ...more
Tara S.
Feb 20, 2016 Tara S. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who appreciate dark beauty
Shelves: black-metal
In the case of this phenomenal tome, a review must needs rely heavily on visuals. Words are wholly and utterly inadequate when it comes to attempting to relate Alexander McQueen's genius. He was a brilliant fucking artist.








Sep 10, 2011 Phair rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Each illustration became my favorite- page after page of the most exquisite fashion, beautifully presented and photographed.

It was a large format book and very heavy! Found the text a little hard to read being such huge pages and such tiny print I kept losing my place (old eyes). Brief but fascinating background on McQeen's life and artistic vision. Really ticked off that I never got to see this exhibition.
This is not the kind of book I would usually read or buy. I appreciate art, but I have a fairly non-existent interest in fashion. However, a quick flick through this book interested me enough to look it up on Amazon and order a copy. McQueen has left behind some stunning work and this collection illustrates the designer's imagination and creativity wonderfully. So many times I was looking at a piece and I'd gasp at the sheer gorgeousness of a design. I won't deny it, I stroked a few pages and og ...more
Mar 18, 2015 Jess rated it liked it
[ This post was originally uploaded to as part of a blogging/social media internship. ]

I have to admit I am somewhat of a fashion novice. Therefore, while I knew who Alexander McQueen was (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), I knew very little about the man himself, apart from the tragic circumstances surrounding his death.

Enter Savage Beauty. Apart from the striking holographic cover, where McQueen’s face morphs into almost a graphic skull, the chosen desi
Feb 08, 2015 Viridian5 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I'm not a total Alexander McQueen fan. In my opinion, some of his clothes are beautiful clothes, some are art, some of his clothes are beautiful clothes and art, some look like costumes, and some are just plain silly, the latter particularly when he gets too literal about some things, like the three taxidermy hawks that perpetually "pull" at the top of one of the VOSS dresses and look ridiculous. I actually saw the Costume Institute at the Met exhibition this book is a companion to a ...more
A.C. Bauch
Aug 20, 2012 A.C. Bauch rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
i was blessed to have been able to see this exhibit at the met during its final weekend. the many-hour wait was well worth it (hooray for ipods!), and i doubt i'll see another fashion exhibit like it ever again.

i've never read much about mcqueen's life, even though i always felt his exhibits were the highlight of any fashion season--i looked forward to his collections more than any other designers'. i enjoyed getting a "peek behind the curtain," so to speak, about mcqueen, especially his formati
Vineca Gray
Jan 11, 2014 Vineca Gray rated it it was amazing
Impossible to put into a few words. Those of us drawn to the enigma of Lee McQueen are forever changed over his tragic departure. We are reminded that genius does exist in this world; seemingly snuffed by the universe to force us to reflect. Lee McQueen is only just barely behind John Lennon as a man who has had that impact on me.

A beautiful book that I cannot put down - a humbling reminder to artists, writers, designers, actors that we struggle with this beautiful chaos together - even as we fe
False Millennium
Given this book was put together by a museum for a curated event, and given McQueen was already deceased, meaning his body of work was complete, I thought the book fell short. It neatly sidestepped Isabella Blow's role in promoting him toward his success. The book is beautifully put together with lovely photography. I would have liked to see the complete collections, and I found the blood splattered models a distraction.
Apr 01, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
The magnificent exhibition catalogue-gone-massive book accompanying the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. This is an introduction to both the work of Alexander McQueen and the man himself - not Alexander but Lee, the man behind the mask. Lee McQueen was not a man it was easy to get close to, but this book still makes a good attempt of it. It describes his life, from a kid with an unusual interest in fashion, via his formative years first at Saville Row and ...more
May 06, 2015 Tereneh rated it it was amazing
Top museum experiences of my life: 1. Brancusi at Philadelphia Museum of Art 2. Rembrandt home and studio in Amsterdam 3. McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition at the Met. 4.Julie Mehretu at Cleveland Museum of Art 5. Carrie Mae Weems at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. This book a fine document of one of the most important fashion exhibitions in history.
Michelle Dunner
Dec 26, 2015 Michelle Dunner rated it really liked it
I'm not sure this qualifies as a 'read'. It's a breathtaking collection of images showcasing one of the most original minds in recent fashion history. It was a real treat for me, having seen many of the clothes at the Met exhibition in New York City. One for lovers of fashion, form and art.
Nov 05, 2015 Hanako rated it really liked it
Reading this book gave me a deeper understanding into McQueen's genius and insanity. I watched the recordings of the shows on Youtube after reading the book, which gave me more insight into the shows that just reading descriptions never would. I strongly encourage watching the shows in chronological order along with the book. I recommend the biography for those interested in fashion or want to know more about this fashion icon and genius.
Apr 03, 2012 Ian rated it really liked it
It's clear to even a fashion dullard like me from reading this book, essentially the official catalog from the retrospective of his work at The Met, that McQueen was a genius and a true artist. But while the book is adequate, some of the run-of-the-mill (by fashion standards) photography doesn't seem to do the pieces they capture full justice or rise to the level McQueen apparently demanded when presenting his collections during live shows. Worth reading for the great preface by Andrew Bolton an ...more
Aug 11, 2011 Katie rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
I had very high hopes for this book after having my mind blown at the Met's exhibit. The book just seems to present the clothing in a dull, mechanical, archival type of way, as if the shots were simply taken for inventory. The book lacks the flair, excitement, and beauty of the instillation itself; the clothing is still magnificent, don't get me wrong, but the Met really had the opportunity to do something amazing with this catalog by incorporating even a tiny amount of that brilliant staging; I ...more
James Schneider
Sep 12, 2012 James Schneider rated it it was amazing
It is interesting to re-contextualize Alexander McQueen's exquisite work in a static, inhuman format. While I believe that this is an imperfect way to view his work, as shot on mannequins (of course, dented and scratched), it offers a reframe of context, removes factors to highlight his pure vision. His baroque and romantic/violent pieces always drew your eye from their wearer.

This volume, which accompanied an exhibit at the MOMA, is lavish and beautiful, and his clothing still registers as sur
Niki Ganong
Jul 14, 2012 Niki Ganong rated it it was amazing
This gorgeous coffee table book is the companion piece/catalog for the designer's 2011 Met retrospective. In addition to the last ten or years of collections, it also has two lengthy interviews, one with McQueen himself and the other with Sara Burton, who took the reigns of the atelier after McQueen's 2010 suicide.

The book is all fashion and the inspiration for the designs. And it's a stunning book, bound beautifully with full-color folios and a nifty hologram cover. But there is no talk of the
Jul 03, 2016 Mark rated it it was amazing
Visually stunning presentation of the amazing work of this late British designer. As much about book design and curation, it raises the apparel to a level of artistry not seen elsewhere.
Feb 06, 2013 Jenny rated it it was amazing
Very apt title. An exhibit catalog from a 2011 show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The size of the book affords much detail. Each stitch is literally breath-taking. I recently read the biography Life and the Legacy [of AMcQ] and cringed each time a piece was described WITHOUT any image. Each piece is riveting and I am finding it hard to return to the 'brary.
The color study is amazing and the textual feeling both luxurious and dangerous. McQueen's work reminds me of a radio review of a [secre
Jan 18, 2015 Deodand rated it it was amazing
Even those of us who are fashion troglodytes can enjoy this book that showcases McQueen's surreal clothing. I will probably never see an exhibit up close, what with being far away from anywhere it has been shown. This beautifully-built book will have to suffice.

This book makes me long for a better quality of clothing. Not couture for everyone - just a raising of the standards of retail clothing back to where it was even 10 years ago. More people in the garment industry should be made to read thi
Jan 17, 2015 Noa rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous book, the cover is simply beautiful; a must for those at all interested in fashion and the genius workings of Alexander McQueen!
Aug 26, 2011 Sylvia rated it really liked it
This book was released in conjunction with an exhibition of McQueen's work at the Met in New York. Since I couldn't make it to the exhibit, I was really interested in the book. I am really blown away by what an amazing and artistic designer he was. I have looked through the book several times now, never ceasing to ooh and aah at such incredible pieces. Since I have been sewing for about a year now, I can also now see and understand what kind of skill is required in order to produce clothing at t ...more
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