Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty Breaks Records

The 21-week exhibition draws to a close with V&A confirming record breaking sales for its Alexander McQueen exhibition.


'Romantic Naturalism' - Victoria and Albert Museum, London
‘Romantic Naturalism’ – Victoria and Albert Museum, London


Alexander McQueen’s retrospective exhibition couldn’t have been more successful. Titled ‘Savage Beauty’, 19 years of McQueen’s work is showcased for those in awe of his creative genius. The Victoria & Albert Museum in London sold more than 480,000 tickets in its 21-week run. In fact the high demand saw the V&A open for overnight visitors, as well as extending the exhibition for another week. This added an extra 15,000 to the final sale total, and signed up 23,000 new members. According to, ‘Savage Beauty’ joins the ranks of other top exhibitions at the MET including the Mona Lisa, King Tutankhamen’s Treasures and Pablo Picasso.


“We planned for it to be more successful than David Bowie [the David Bowie Is exhibition, which sold 311,956 tickets in 2013], but getting 480,000 visitors is over 100,000 more than we expected,” Tim Reeve, V&A deputy director, said. “Your first reaction is, ‘Oh my God, we have committed to spending £3 million on a show that is going to be on for 21 weeks – what happens if they don’t come?’ Then you see the reaction on social media and see that the world is waiting for this to happen. About four or five weeks in, we knew it was going to be successful, and then could enjoy it.”


'Romantic Exoticism' - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
‘Romantic Exoticism’ – The Metropolitan Museum of Art


The first and largest retrospective of McQueen’s rework, the exhibit displayed 66 original pieces with a total of 240 outfits put on show. The exhibit included six different galleries organised by themes including ‘Romantic Nationalism’, ‘Romantic Exoticism’ and ‘Romantic Mind’. Each featured McQueen’s exploration of ideas, such as the use of Victorian Gothic themes or the use of non-Western influence in designs. ‘Savage Beauty’ also displayed his famous Amadillo shoes, as well as pieces from ‘Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims’, his first major collection.



‘Savage Beauty’ captured the all theatrical staging and spectacle you would expect from Alexander McQueen. The technical skill of the great designer is showcased, compelling viewers with the fascinations and inspirations that stirred each collection. McQueen continues to compel fashion designers and consumers, and you can read more about it in Master’s of Fashion: Volume 39, available soon on Amazon.