A new fashion exhibition features some powerful garments by major names. Gucci, Viktor & Rolf, and Maison Martin Margiela are just a few, alongside over 70 pieces of Alexander McQueen–the largest private collection of his works. It’s an incredible collection to be sure, but this exhibition isn’t the next Met Costume Institute project–it’s not even in New York.
The exhibition, called A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion and Chess, is the latest to open at St. Louis, Missouri’s World Chess Hall of Fame.
Despite having some pretty fashionable denizens (Derek Blasberg and supermodel Karlie Kloss both call St. Louis home), it’s not exactly where we picture a major fashion exhibition making its debut. But tomorrow, October 19, that’s exactly what will happen. So we sent over a few questions to exhibition curator Sofia Hedman to figure out what a chess piece and fashion have in common, and whether we’ll be able to see A Queen Within without booking a ticket to the STL.
Fashionista: What inspired the idea of a fashion exhibition at a chess museum?
Hedman: First, we were inspired by the game of chess and the enthusiasm of the team at the World Chess Hall of Fame. The vision for the exhibition absolutely captured us when we began to research the evolution of the game and the queen’s role within it. It is fascinating that there wasn’t a queen represented on the board centuries ago, and then not only did she appear but became the most powerful and unpredictable piece when the European queens like Isabella of Spain and Elizabeth I emerged.
Next, we were inspired by the theories of Carl Jung concerning archetypes. That’s what influenced us to classify the queens by nine different facets of her personality: Sage, Mother Figure, Enchantress, Magician, Explorer, Ruler, Mother Earth, Heroine and Thespian. I think there is a bit of each personality in each of us, which is why this exhibition is called A Queen Within.
How did you choose the designers, and then the pieces, featured in the exhibition?
We took each of those nine archetypes and created a section of the exhibition around them. We’re actually taking the viewer on a journey through a fairytale, using the garments as well as photography, sculpture, graphic design, and writing to tell her story. We selected the designers by those who had the most unique, creative, and awe-inspiring work. Each garment in the exhibition represents a designer with absolute vision and genius.
How did you put together the collection? Where did the pieces come from?
We had a connection to one of the largest private collections of Alexander McQueen’s work, and that was the starting point for our exhibition. But we didn’t want this to be just a retrospective of McQueen’s work–that has been done, and very well. So we started looking at other designers who aren’t afraid to break the rules, whose work is innovative and a bit subversive. We contacted these designers worked with them to loan us their garments.
How do these pieces represent the queen piece in the game?
The garments really are awe-inspiring. They’re also unexpected, unpredictable, innovative, and powerful. These are all the words we use to describe our queens as well.
Are there any plans for the exhibit to tour?
We are talking with several institutions all over the world about the possibility of touring A Queen Within.
Check out some preview images of the exhibition: