guido guides us through alexander mcqueen’s 'savage beauty'

The hair styling genius talks us through what life was like with his close friend and confidante Lee Alexander McQueen, at 'Savage Beauty' at the V&A, the first and largest retrospective of McQueen's work in Europe.

by Lynette Nylander
13 March 2015, 12:15pm

Platos Atlantis gallery

In what can only be described as one of the most anticipated fashion exhibitions of all time, Alexander McQueen's Savage Beauty is finally set to open at London's Victoria and Albert Museum this weekend after its record-breaking residency at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011.

So much so was the demand for Savage Beauty, the V&A had to announce an extra 50,000 tickets after the initial 30,000 tickets that went on sale in late 2014 sold out in record time.

One of the incredible minds who helped bring the exhibition to life was Lee's frequent collaborator and friend Guido Palau who serves as head treatment and mask designer for the exhibition. Walking with Guido through Savage Beauty, he shares his anecdotes and memories of life and work with one of fashion's most famed designers.

Guido's favorite show is….
"Plato's Atlantis or No.13 with Shalom Harlow. The show with Shalom was incredible, you don't know how incredible these things are sometimes when you're in it."

The designer had a funny side only those close to him got to see…
"When people talk about Lee, it's always in reference to his dark side, but he wasn't always that character. He definitely delved into it with work but he definitely had a cheeky side too."

The one moment that Kate Moss won't let Guido forget is…
"When I wrapped Kate's head in bandages for the VOSS collection [spring/summer 2001], Kate screamed backstage 'you can't do this to me!' I think she's quite claustrophobic and being wrapped up must have been quite traumatising. She still won't let me forget it!"

Voss, spring/summer 2001

Palau had to learn the art of mask making…
"When I got asked, [to do the show] I didn't know if I wanted to do hair. I didn't think it would represent Lee's view on beauty. I had to look into the art of making masks. People like Brooklyn based Desi Santiago, whose masks were used in the Romantic Nationalism section, helped me visualize these things as I was not an expert in making masks. I knew I wanted an object on heads that didn't move but said something."

Romantic Nationalism gallery

Alexander often didn't know the power of his signature tailoring….
"We've grouped all the signature tailored styles together. I don't think he thought about things like that. He didn't fully understand the commerciality of his things, I don't think."

The women that inspired McQueen were...
"...really strong women. His references were always tribal or Amazonian women. That's what he looked for in his models. He loved the idea of warriors and always had a strong idea for the women in his shows and what they represented."

The exhibition's room entitled Cabinet of Curiosities...
"...was to showcase everything Lee had done. It reflects all his interests too. From taxidermy to modern art, it really reflects his tastes."

Cabinet of Curiosities

Guido's still carries Alexander's spirit with him…
"I do carry a little bit with him with me. I feel like (including the New York run) it's been such a long journey. A lot of his friends and family didn't get to see the show in New York. People walking around, including his friends and family, have been so respectful. I do think what Lee would have thought about all of this when I walk around the exhibition."

Romantic Exoticism gallery

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty opens March 14 at London's Victoria and Albert Museum and runs through August 2. In partnership with Swarovski. Supported by American Express. With thanks to M.A.C Cosmetics. Technology partner Samsung.



Text Lynette Nylander

Alexander McQueen
victoria and albert museum
savage beauty
lee mcqueen