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Alexander McQueen's retrospective at the Met

On May 2nd the annual Met Ball will usher in “Savage Beauty,” the much-anticipated Alexander McQueen retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute. The show includes nearly two hundred pieces from his 19-year-long career. In preparation for the exhibition, Tim Blanks sat down with McQueen’s successor, Sarah Burton, who sheds her insight and insider knowledge on her long history with the dearly missed creative genius. McQueen was known as much for his innovative approach to the design and craftsmanship of his collections as he was for the spectacle of his runway shows. “He really loved the shows,” Burton says. “He used to say, ‘This is the last big one we’re doing,’ but he couldn’t help himself. [He] just didn’t like doing normal catwalk shows and so much was expected of him.”

The same goes for the models, who were continually challenged to meet the demands of his clothing. The infamous Armadillo shoe from Spring 2010, for example, “was actually quite comfortable to walk in, but if a girl couldn’t walk in them, she wasn’t in the show.” And who can forget the Perspex robotic body from Fall 1999, which threatened to electrocute the model if she perspired on the runway?

As for the future of the line, McQueen is a hard act to follow. He “mastered how to weave, engineer and print any digital image onto a garment so that all the pattern pieces matched up with the design on every seam. That was the difficulty with the collection that followed,” Burton says. “Where do you take it?”

“Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” runs from May 4 – July 31, 2011