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23. Because We Love Fashion, Even When It’s Not for Sale.

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A dress displayed at the Met’s show, from McQueen’s last collection.   

On certain days (and nights), the wait to get inside Savage Beauty, the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibit of Alexander McQueen’s work, was three hours, and still people waited happily. That we’re interested in fashion is not news, but that our appreciation of it is deep enough that we’ll stand in long lines and jostle through crowded galleries to snag glimpses of lobster-claw shoes and broad-shouldered silhouettes is something else altogether. The exhibit’s popularity came as a surprise, though in retrospect it made perfect sense. Most of the 661,509 people who attended the show could never, or would never, wear McQueen’s clothes; they are too expensive, too extreme. But Savage Beauty wasn’t about that. It was about paying homage to one of the greatest creative talents of recent memory, whose artistry was typically on display only to a small and privileged few. An online slide parade couldn’t compare with the chance to see the embroidery, the tailoring, the fabric’s exquisite drape up close. Yet this was a fashion show requiring no invitation or expectation that you’d purchase (much less fit into) a corseted leather dress. Which isn’t to say the whole thing didn’t result in a little commercethe gift shop had to do multiple reorders of tartan purses and armadillo shoe ornaments. This is New York, which means the fashion tribute must eventually take to the streets.


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