• by Cathy Breslaw

The Buzz: "Lee Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse" at LACMA

This article is an excerpt from a published piece by JAF Board director Cathy Breslaw, as part of her public role as art critic. This article has been edited for space.


Lee Alexander McQueen, often called the "alchemist of fashion," was trained from age 16 in the design and technical skills in creating clothing. Between then and his tragic death in 2010 at the age of 41, his clothing and runway shows often reflected an aggressive and sexual style and in his own words wanting audiences to either feel "repulsed or exhilarated."

Alexander McQueen, Woman’s Dress (detail) from the Plato’s Atlantis collection, Spring/Summer 2010, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift from the Collection of Regina J. Drucker

In Lee Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos and Muse, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LAMCA) curators Clarissa Esguerra and Michaela Hansen linked a connection between McQueen’s fashions alongside objects from the museum’s large collection, drawing upon art history, culture and autobiographic moments from which McQueen drew inspiration. Sourced from the McQueen collection of Regina J. Drucker, the show is organized into four thematic sections. Mythos includes references to religion and mythology; Fashion Narratives explores imagined worlds with collections rooted in romanticized historical references and McQueen’s personal history; Evolution and Existence examining his fascination with nature and life cycles, and Techniques and Innovation demonstrating his masterful design and dressmaking skills as well as his vast knowledge of costume history, and experimentation of digital technologies.


The exhibition includes 200 objects and over 70 designs by McQueen in conversation with examples of costume and textiles, decorative arts, paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs by 35 other artists mostly drawn from LACMA’s permanent collection. The exhibition design created by Michael Maltzan connects viewers with McQueen’s imagination and LACMA’s collection, facilitating an understanding of the artist’s vision.

Manuel Cipriano Gomes Mafra, Urn, c. 1865-87, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Barbara and Marty Frenkel, photo (c) Museum Associates/LACMA

The design enhances open, multiple intersecting space through classical colonnade forms so that the fashions coexist with the objects of art from the selected museum objects. Viewers can move through the exhibition seamlessly while all the while observing the fashions of various spaces simultaneously at various angles and viewpoints.


This first exhibition of McQueen’s work on the west coast explores his imagination, artistic process, and innovation in fashion and art, and uncovers an understanding of his artistic legacy as well as linking his work to art history via LACMA’s fascinating collection.


On view through October 9th at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd, LA, 90036. All visitors must purchase or reserve an advance timed-entry ticket online by clicking on this link or by calling the LACMA Ticket Office at 323.857.6010, 10 am–5 pm daily.