On February 11, 2010, Alexander McQueen died too young. McQueen was a visionary designer, he was provocative and original, known for his work as head designer at Givenchy as well as for his own eponymous label. He left behind a spectacular catalogue of designs – clothing that was dramatic and dark, theatrical and romantic.

He was only 40-years-old.

McQueen’s designs were always tinged with darkness – viewing them after his suicide imbues them with unimaginable pathos. His Spring 2001 presentation saw demented models trapped in a mirrored box that resembled a mental hospital holding cell. Fall 2007 was a brooding and melancholic exploration of the hunted and persecuted women of the Salem witch trials, while Fall 2009 presented a grotesque vision of models with exaggerated, Marilyn Manson-esque lips, strapped into S&M inspired creations that were as weird as they were extraordinary. It’s hard to view the darkness in his designs without thinking that maybe, somehow, they were coded messages. Sent out, and not received.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will honour McQueen’s memory from May 4 with Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, a retrospective comprising of approximately 100 ensembles and 70 accessories from the designer’s back catalogue. The exhibition will showcase more than two decades of McQueen’s work as a designer and couturier. From his graduate collection from Central St Martins College of Art which launched him into the design scene, through his years as the creative director of Givenchy, and finally, designs for his own label, up to his final collection in 2010, which was shown in Paris after his death.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty runs from May 4 until July 31 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

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