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Alexander McQueen has homecoming with London museum exhibit

April 30, 2014

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty promotional image from Victoria and Albert Museum, London Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty promotional image from Victoria and Albert Museum, London


British fashion label Alexander McQueen will host the first European retrospective of its late eponymous designer’s work with an exhibit at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

“Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,” which was on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2011, will open at the V&A in spring 2015, presented in partnership with Swarovski. When in the United States, the exhibit was hugely popular, and the brand will likely see a similar overwhelming response, especially now that it is in its hometown.

"With the first Savage Beauty exhibit taking place at the Met in New York in 2011, it makes sense that the exhibit makes a return to McQueen's home in London where he began his career," said Ryan Hattaway, president of Mogul Media Group, Miami, FL.

"This honors his legacy and pays homage to the brand's heritage," he said.

Mr. Hattaway is not affiliated with Alexander McQueen but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Alexander McQueen did not respond by press deadline.

Looking back
Savage Beauty traces Mr. McQueen’s design career from his graduate collection from 1992 to his unfinished 2010 fall/winter collection. It is based on the original Savage Beauty in New York, with the same curator and creative director working on this second retrospective.

McQueen Savage Beauty Met Cabinet

Cabinet of Curiosities in Savage Beauty exhibit at the Met

When in New York, 661,509 fans of the brand flocked to the display, making it one of the Met’s top 10 most visited exhibits.

Tickets went on sale for Savage Beauty at the V&A on April 25 for next year. The exhibit will run from March 14, 2015 through July 19, 2015.

Even with the early notice, the museum has needed to add an additional phone line to deal with the demand for tickets. As of press time, it had received more than 7,100 advanced ticket purchases.

Alexander McQueen - Paris Fashion Week Autumn 2006

Alexander McQueen runway look from fall/winter 2006

Swarovski was instrumental in Mr. McQueen’s career. In the 1990s, Isabella Blow introduced the designer to Nadja Swarovski, which lead to the crystal maker sponsoring his 1999 show.

Through the years Mr. McQueen collaborated with Swarovski on a number of pieces, using its gemstones in headdresses for his autumn/winter 2006 collection and creating a crystal Christmas tree for the V&A entrance along with Tord Boontje in 2003.


Headdress made with Swarovski gemstones

The exhibit is sponsored by American Express, which teamed up with the designer on a gold leaf encrusted “Haute Couture” credit card and had an ongoing relationship with him from 1997.

"Swarovski and McQueen share a rich history that spans nearly 20 years, from the use of Swarovski crystals in runway collections to accessories, so the sponsorship is a great way to honor their long standing partnership with McQueen while also benefitting from the marketing and media exposure surrounding the exhibit," Mr. Hattaway said.

"Swarovski and Alexander McQueen also share the same luxury consumer base, so the target market for the art exhibition is an attractive audience for both brands," he said.

Curated connections
Italian jeweler Bulgari is strengthening its relationship with the fashion industry by sponsoring The Glamour of Italian Fashion exhibit April 5 through July 27 at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

Although a main sponsor, Bulgari is promoting its involvement with the museum exhibit on its London hotel and residence property’s Facebook account. Instead of seeming pushy, Bulgari’s use of its hotel to promote the exhibit may persuade guests and enthusiasts to book a stay (see story).

Exhibits are more likely to appeal to existing fans than expand awareness to a new audience.

From collaborative art installations to displaying iconic pieces of jewelry, nearly every brand has curated a museum exhibit to showcase their heritage and identity from their own perspective.

By curating an exhibit a brand can bolster its identity through storytelling that reveals specific aspects of its history to consumers. Using education and creative exhibit installations may help reaffirm its position in the luxury market and elevate its standing in the mind of enthusiasts (see story).

This exhibit will likely reach an interested audience that could not attend the New York iteration.

"I believe the London exhibit will do very well despite the three year gap because this truly is 'the homecoming' for McQueen's exhibit, so the local support for his legacy should be tremendous," Mr. Hattaway said.

"Also geographically speaking, there will be a large amount of interest from visitors in Europe who could not make it to the NYC exhibit at the Met back in 2011," he said.

Final Take
Sarah Jones, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York