Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty catalog — Takaaki Matsumoto

Curator: Molly Renda
date: October 5, 2011
Categories: Book & Magazine Design
Tags: Alexander McQueen, exhibition design, Fashion, Sølve Sundsbø
© Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce
Exhibition catalog, courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (cover photograph by Gary James McQueen; interior spread photographs courtesy of Alexander McQueen)

I kick myself for not getting to The Met to see this show. Everyone I know described it as transformative. I did, however, spend the better part of a weekend with the catalog, which was in itself an experience.

I use the word experience with intention. Sølve Sundsbø’s images of the installation are breathtaking yet prove again that interpolation of physical space or works of art does not replace being in the moment, face-to-face with the work. But holding, opening and entering the catalog is an active, even interactive, experience. It’s big (9 3/4 x 13 1/8 inches) but not gigantic. For its size it’s intimate: a coffee table book that is comfortable in the hand. Takaaki Matsumoto has crafted an architecture and stage for Sundsbø’s photographs, the curator’s text, the printer’s art and McQueen’s genius. Like a toy theater, it is a unique environment that offers a window on the artist/designer and his work that transcends documentation.

Photograph by Anne Mullier
Title page spread in Bergdorff Goodman’s window (McQueen photograph by David Bailey)

Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce
White/grey chiffon dress, autumn/winter 2010 (courtesy of Alexander McQueen)

Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce
Dress, SARABANDE, spring/summer 2007 (courtesy of Alexander McQueen)

Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce
Dress, IRENE, spring/summer 2003 (courtesy of Alexander McQueen)

Exhibition credits: Andrew Bolton, curator, with the support of Harold Koda, curator in charge, both of The Met’s Costume Institute; graphic design by Sue Koch of The Met’s Design Department; creative direction by Sam Gainsbury; production design by Joseph Bennett; and head treatments and masks designed by Guido

  • Catherine Casalino

    One of the most amazing things about this catalog is that the “mannequins” are actually models who were painted white and then photoshopped to give them joints and remove their heads! I’m sure McQueen would have loved that. See the NYTimes for more info on the process:

  • Heresdarrel

    The Metropolitan
    Museum of Art’s McQueen exhibition was a major contributor of generating $908
    million in spending, providing tremendous economic impact for New York while
    generating $90.8 million in tax revenue for the state. It makes sense, with current
    economic circumstances as precarious as they are that exhibitions of this caliber
    can do a lot for other economies as well, further supporting the need to have
    exhibitions such as the McQueen Exhibit travel. 

    A petition exists to
    encourage Alexander McQueen, The Met, and donors to “Please Make
    Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty a Traveling Exhibition” at:

    The goal of this petition, according to creator Selena marie Norris, is to help spread the beauty of Alexander McQueen’s
    work with the world as a legacy and testament of his creative genius as McQueen wanted to share his passion with as much of the world as
    technically possible. I think we’d all like that.

  • Selena Marie Norris

    Thanks for posting, Heresdarrel. We would love it if Design Envy would help spread the word about the petition. :)


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