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Walking and Wandering and Wondering on My Own at the V&A Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition

Aaaarg gosh and golly, this is like my third attempt at this blog post because I keep on waffeling more the f-on than per usual, and like quoting Shakespeare and it is all getting out of hand, so I am going to attempt this in more of a list form, but bear with me, because it is tricky to do a list like review of a gallery exhibition. That is probs why the Guardian doesn't do that...

So, like some sort of lady who lunches which I am not, I had a cheeky day off on Friday, just to hang out with myself. And this day unlike last time I had a casual Friday off I actually wasn't dying of a hangover thanks to a Thursday night at Hip Hop Karaoke (as flipping amazing as it sounds, but you do actually have to be good at rapping - they don't have the words up and they don't have Drunk in Love). No this day I got up to see the partial solar eclipse and everything (but didn't too many clouds in London).

If you've read the short epic novels which are my about page or my first post, then you know this blog is about doing nice things in London and in life with your lover, with your friends but also on your own. I wanted to be better at "me time", and not just end up watching Teen Mom 2 for 5 hours whilst eating Heinz Tomato soup if I had a day to myself. I've got away from that a little bit on Loner. Lover. Friend, my last "loner" posts have been about ways to get yourself out of a slump day, a musing about what Valentine's day is, different ways to wear Christmas jumpers...I am not going to stop doing those posts, because I like writing them, but I wanted to get back to what my initial thoughts for this blog were.

The V&A seemed a good place to start, on my first V&A membership card, and in the pack it has a copy of Rob Ryan's lasered design:

Hours that I spent walking and wandering and wondering on my own to look and think and think and look feeling apart yet feeling a part of all that I saw as the past and the present slowly became one

I actually have been a member of the V&A for almost 3 years now. I know get me and my cultural self. As I've mentioned before on Loner. Lover. Friend, I think one of the most fabulous things about London is pretty much all of our wonderful museums and galleries are free, but there are some perks of V&A membership: 10% off in the gift shop, a cute little membership card to put in your wallet, feeling like a high and mighty cool as cultural so and so, oh and of course all the free, no booking needed entry to all of their wonderful exhibitions, and the ability to go to members events, like lovely evening talks with wine receptions and really interesting people from the world of fashion and art sharing what they know.

When I signed up to the V&A it was amazingly good value for money as I got their under 26 membership on direct debit. I paid £29 for myself for a year's worth of exhibitions (and bear in mind Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty is £17.50 per person) and then paid an extra £15 to bring a guest in with me. Now I am old and 26, and no longer qualify for that membership (waaa), it is a bit pricier, but still worth it, if you are going to go to at least 3 ticketed exhibitions a year and bring someone along.

So now for the list. Sorry none of the items on this list have that much connection to each other, they are just thoughts I had when seeing Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty, things I learnt, things I've thought and learnt since, things I already knew which I thought might be worth sharing with y'all.

1. It looks amazing. As you might expect from a V&A ticketed exhibition but still, give that curator a medal. As you move through the rooms it echoes McQueen's collections you are moving through - like the room for his A/W 1997 collection "It's a jungle out there" all tribal influence and coats made from hair and amazing things the exhibition room is like this wonderful (fake) skull lined cage. For his romantic dreamy collections, the V&A framed them against huge gilt mirrors, and to display his S/S 2001 collection VOSS they recreated the glass box, Alexander McQueen showed it in.

2. So from point 1, with me dropping in the names of the collection and wotnot maybe you think I am an Alexander McQueen and general fashion know it all. Not true, I was just doing that to impress ya. I had heard of Alexander McQueen but I mainly associated him with this amazing nautical collection I saw in my Elle magazine when I was 15, and Kate Middleton's wedding dress, as of course his predecessor Sarah Burton designed that. What I didn't realise is that actually Alexander McQueen was super duper weird, like weirder than a normal designer (who lets face it, all seem to bring out designs a bit more bizarre than H&M). Like on display in the exhibition included: a whole top made of mussel shells, a red sequinned dress which would be normal but for the face hood, a dress with massive wooden wings.

3. Although there are a few bits of Alexander McQueen which have made it mainstream. Turns out I probably have him to thank for that lace corset and smart trouser look which I wore to every 17th birthday party in 2004. And all those puffball hems we had a few years back, were courtesy not of Jane Norman but of him. And seeing them all again sort of makes me wish I could still fit into my old puffball dress and that my mum had never thrown that lace corset away. Also, no offence Topshop but his Atlantis collection made it look like he did those lovely mirroring symmetrical print dresses like 8 years before you did...

4. That maybe fashion can be art. As I mooched around in my leggings, trainers and oversized sweatshirt at a fashion exhibit, onlookers might not have thought it, but I am not one of those people who think fashion is silly. I think fashion gives you confidence, shows your creativity and helps you express yourself but I've never seen it as art in the way say, I see Shakespeare as art. Art for me is something that pinpoints the human condition, how men and women feel and identify themselves, and has the same emotional resonance with its audience regardless of their context - their century, their gender, their wealth, their race. I couldn't see how fashion could do that, but McQueen's work wasn't just about trends, it was about showing mortality, showing beauty, showing our relationship with nature. I loved what he said about his not-so-pretty Voss collection: "It was about trying to trap something not conventionally beautiful to show that beauty comes from within".

5. That Alexander McQueen was a pretty special person. Not scared to be different and outrageous, and that showed in his collections and everything he did. He was the son of a cabbie who grew up as Lee in Stratford, and left school with just one O level. In his first job - an apprenticeship at a tailor's in Mayfair - he wrote "you f***ing c**t" in an suit jacket intended for Prince Charles. (Pretty ironic that his label then went on to dress Prince Charles' daughter in law on her wedding day).

Sorry no photos are allowed inside, so I am having to describe things a little, they are obvs better seen in person!

6. A highlight number one: there is this miraculous hologram of Kate Moss dancing in this wispy gown and then becoming like smoke. Not maybe the best showcasing of McQueen's work but amazeballs nonetheless.

7. Highlight or maybe lowpoint (?) number two: a man reaching out and touching a slashed pink ponyskin dress when security weren't looking!! Couldn't believe it! Think he might have been dragged by a girlfriend, and didn't get it...

8. And nothing to do with Alexander McQueen per say, but just a day to myself. A day to sit and drink jasmine tea (and eat macaroni cheese of course) in the most lovely cafe in London (well the loveliest cafe where you can get lunch for less than a tenner). A day to sit and read my book in beautiful surroundings on the first proper day of spring. A day to just not worry about anyone but me and anything I was missing! I think sometimes "me time" can be hard to prioritise because you get massive FOMO about what you could be missing out on whilst you are walking and wandering and wondering on your own - whether thats because your friends are all going down the pub, or because you could just be lounging on the sofa with your boyfriend watching TV and that is pretty lovely as a thing to do too. But getting out by yourself did make me feel a bit more in touch with me again, and I guess if you are worried about the FOMO then taking a day off is a good move, cos what are you missing? Work! Pfff.

Ok none of the exhibition but I went to town on the cafe! Who could resist a cuppa in here?

Classily reading The Goldfinch and photographing it with the sticker still on...I also bought Travelling to Infinity (Jane Hawking's autobiography that the Theory of Everything is based on) if you were wondering! Oh and the Goldfinch is excellent!

Dat ceiling.

You can book and Alexander McQueen exhibition for £17.50 per person here. You can get V&A membership here, but they don't mention direct debits I think (which is cheaper). Pop in and visit the membership desk for that gig.

Read more about why I want to blog about things to do by yourself here, in my first post: Go to a literary festival

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