While we were expecting the likes of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell to show up at the star-studded gala for the opening of "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" in London Thursday night, we were a touch disappointed by the lack of a presence of another McQueen-loving Kate. Although, the Duchess of Cambridge should probably get a pass this time — considering she is eight months pregnant and all.
Speaking of pregnant, some 12 years ago, I was very pregnant and happened to attend a party in a not-yet-gentrified part of East London where Jack the Ripper did his business. It was my last trimester, making it difficult to find anything remotely glamorous to wear, but Alexander McQueen — none of this "Lee" business, he was very much Mr. McQueen to me — put me at ease.
"Ha," he laughed. "Up until a few years ago, everything I wore was from the charity shop or stolen — so don’t you worry, I would imagine dressing a bump is no bovver, really."
Remembering his words, I wondered what McQueen would be thinking of tonight, with all of his friends showing up in their best dresses — and on their best behavior — followed around by the requisite social types that hover in their jet stream. On that note, we very much missed the woman that perhaps wore McQueen best: Daphne Guinness, although a masked Harriet Verney did a pretty good impression of her. But hey, under that headgear, it could have been my checkout girl from Tesco, for all I know.
There were also a fair few designers in attendance, and it was a welcome and fresh change seeing people like Michael Van der Ham and Osman Yousefzada alongside the usual suspects like Christopher Kane, Erdem and Giles Deacon. You heard it here first: from time to time, though not very often, Osman does leave his studio.
It wasn't surprising that for a night of celebration, there was also sadness. There was a pervading darkness and gravitas in the air that only can come with knowing that someone so talented also suffered from so many demons. As Osman put it, "This exhibit is so beautiful, yet made me so sad. I especially loved the cabinet of curiosities, it just reminded me so much of his brain. He is missed."
So, yes, a magical night, with special mention to Flora Starkey (daughter-in-law to Ringo Starr) for her hand in the floral arrangements, and to the flirty, handsome waiters in kilts. The sumptuous, rich atmosphere was dotted with the humorous (Victoria Beckham's raccoon eyes), the worrisome (Colin Firth's gaunt frame), the-inhale-deeply moment (Rupert Friend of "Homeland"), the WTF (a seriously slimmed-down Beth Ditto), the purely joyful (FKA Twigs in McQueen's "Birds of a Feather" dress) and a moment of relief: a fashion party that is a Kendall Jenner, Cara Delevingne and Gigi Hadid-free zone.
At the end of the day, the approximately £1000-a-head gala dinner was a fundraiser just so the V&A can continue to bring shows like this for free — or next-to-free — ergo, Swarovski deserves a mention for partnering with the V&A to bring the whole exhibit about. Nadja Swarovski said that she met McQueen in the 1990s through Isabella Blow, and boom, an instant bond was formed. Last night, she said she was thrilled to be involved in the whole shebang, and understandably so.
"We are honored to be supporting the homecoming of 'Savage Beauty' — the exhibit brings McQueen's legacy back to the city where he was born, where he trained as a designer and where built his global fashion brand," she said.
A day of goosebumps all around, then.