McQueen: Savage Beauty

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Highlight From the Designer's Costume Institute Retrospective

A collaborative labor of love between late designer Lee Alexander McQueen, milliner Philip Treacy and jeweler Shaun Leane, the Bird's Nest Headdress profiled in today's film is among the pieces appearing in the Costume Institute of New York's McQueen retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art opening this week. "Birds were one of McQueen's greatest inspirations," says curator Andrew Bolton. "This hat is a poetic manifestation of his love of nature." The feathered creation opened McQueen's fall 2006 Widows of Culloden presentation, a darkly romantic panoply of tweeds, tartans and brocades inspired by the final battle of the Jacobite Risings that saw the fashion maverick revisit his Scottish roots. Crafted from mallard wings, Swarovski blue topaz and smoky quartz gemstones, the headwear took eight weeks to complete and was one of two works the trio of designers made together for Widows—the other being a black spinel–encrusted eagle's skull topped with jet plumes. "McQueen gave me the platform to push the boundaries of jewelry design," says Leane. Savage Beauty will feature close to 100 looks and 70 accessories pulled from McQueen's 19-year body of work, spanning his pivotal early collection Highland Rape to his swan song in 2010, when royal wedding dress designer Sarah Burton took up the McQueen mantle.


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