A Queen Within

By Jennifer Wells
In Feature, Style

A historic exhibition has arts and fashions top players making their move on St. Louis.

 

Whether through history, folklore or fairytale, the legacy of the queen is no doubt beguiling. Is she a ruler or enchantress? A heroine or mother figure? “A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion and Chess,” a remarkable new exhibition at The World Chess Hall of Fame, seeks to explore these ideas, guided by the archetype work of Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung. The highly curated collection of art, film, photography and fashion will span 3,000 square feet of space wrought with symbolism and intrigue.

The exhibition, running Oct. 19-April 18, 2014, tells the story of the nine personas of Jung's queen archetype (Sage, Mother Figure, Magician, Enchantress, Explorer, Ruler, Mother Earth, Heroine and Orphan) and has captured the attention oftop fashion publications around the world, with the city of St. Louis poised gracefully as the event’s fashion-forward backdrop. Works will be shown from a number of designers, including Gucci, Viktor & Rolf and Jean Paul Gaultier, among others. But the pinnacle of the exhibition is undoubtedly the impressive (in both quantity and aesthetic quality) array of Alexander McQueen pieces, most of which were contributed from the private collection of one of St. Louis’ top fashion patrons. ALIVE went inside the halls of WCHOF for a glimpse at some of the most exciting pieces by world-renowned and emerging designers.

 

4385_1445.jpg

Dress By Alexander McQueen

Representing the Sage theme, the royal undertones of emerald and velvet are only made more dramatic with the addition of gold flame-shaped embroidery that, when viewed on the runway, seems to glow and flicker like the embers of a fire. Part of McQueen’s legendary autumn/winter 2007 collection, the concept was first conceived when the designer discovered he had a distant relative who was a victim of the 1692 Salem witch trials. Subsequently, McQueen named the collection “In Memory of Elizabeth Howe, Salem 1692” in homage to his fallen ancestor.

4386_1445.jpg

Dress By Writtenafterwards

Representing the Mother Figure theme, which includes such characteristics as altruism and saintliness, this vintage 1980s dress has a lit-from-within glow accomplished with Swarovski crystal-embedded fabric (just one example of how the brand has managed to seamlessly infiltrate the world of highend fashion). In a decidedly literal interpretation, the dress gloriously illuminates the Mother Figure as both a parent and a protector. The current owner discovered the vintage treasure at Decades, a Hollywood staple for vintage red carpet couture and a favorite haunt of celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe.

4387_1445.jpg

Dress By Gucci

Representing the Heroine theme, this piece was chosen because of its chain mail detailing and armor-like appearance. Evocative of a warrior heading into battle, the feathers (especially those at the shoulders )add a sense of exoticism that is almost tribal in nature. Although the garment is merely cocktail in length, the detailed metalwork makes it exceptionally heavy. Originally presented in Gucci’s spring/summer 2011 collection, the dress has quickly become a favorite among stylists, and the few who have been lucky enough to bear its ample weight include A-list fashion icons Beyonc̩ and Naomi Campbell.

4388_1445.jpg

Dress By Gianfranco Ferr•À_

Representing the Mother Figure theme, which includes such characteristics as altruism and saintliness, this vintage 1980s dress has a lit-from-within glow accomplished with Swarovski crystal-embedded fabric (just one example of how the brand has managed to seamlessly infiltrate the world of highend fashion). In a decidedly literal interpretation, the dress gloriously illuminates the Mother Figure as both a parent and a protector. The current owner discovered the vintage treasure at Decades, a Hollywood staple for vintage red carpet couture and a favorite haunt of celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe.

4389_1445.jpg

Dress By Chan Luu

When viewing this stunning piece, it’s surprising to note that Chan Luu is better known for its bracelets than garments. But leave it to longtime fashion darling Jennifer Lopez (who notoriously donned Chan Luu’s clear crystal tunic for a beach shoot) to draw attention decidedly away from the wrist. As part of the Heroine theme, the chain mail detailing‰ÛÓ coupled with the use of sparkling Swarovski crystals‰ÛÓadds a feminine element that is a direct (and beautiful) contrast to the usual battle armor associations of metalwork.

4390_1445.jpg

Ensemble By Hideki Seo

Rightfully placed in the Magician theme of “A Queen Within,” Hideki Seo’s designs blur the lines that typically separate fashion from art, making it obvious why the designer has garnered as much of a following among the fickle fashion community as he has with the ever-discerning art crowd. Pattern-play, contrast and proportion factor into Seo’s 2005 creation, titled “Swimming in the Garment.” To view the piece is inarguably a magical experience in itself. Perhaps more at home in an exhibition than on the racks, Seo’s museum-worthy frocks have captured the attention of the press and graced the pages of more than a few fashion pubs.

A love affair with culture and travel serves as inspiration for innovative designer Hideki Seo, and his dedication to his craft is limitless. By day, he works as design assistant for fashion great Azzedine AlaÌøa, but night belongs only to Seo‰ÛÓwho has a habit of producing museum-worthy pieces into the wee hours. With clear artistic aspirations, Seo’s whimsical and wildly creative pieces are a testament to many things, including his studies at Antwerp Academy of Fashion, extensive world travels and, of course, his own mind-blowing aesthetic. Seo, a man of great humility and graciousness, attributes much of his success to his seven years with AlaÌøa, whom he refers to as the “legend of mode.”

4391_1445.jpg

Dress By Serena Gili

It’s a testament to Gili’s skills that a garment created by such a young talent fits seamlessly into an exhibition teeming with some of the most recognized pieces in fashion. As part of the Mother Figure theme, Gili’s creation emits a luminescent, golden glow that ties into the saintly attributes of the queen as a mother. The top portion of the dress, on loan from the designer’s Central Saint Martins 2012 BA presentation, is made of cashmere and embellished with delicate beading, while the sculptural bottom portion is crafted from fiberglass.

Inspiration isn’t just a product of Serena Gili’s current environment, but also cultivated from her fashionforward beginnings. It was a collection of hats (by the hundreds) and a selection of Jean Paul Gaultier garments from her grandmother’s closet that first drew Gili’s attention to fashion as an outlet for her creativity. As a student of famed Central Saint Martins, Gili has won much recognition for her BA collection, which manages to marry both silhouette and detail. Since her debut, all in-the-know eyes have been on Gili as she garners a bevy of press coverage, including the professional validation of seeing one of her skirts on top model Cara Delevigne for i-D Magazine. What’s most exciting about Gili is not what she’s accomplished thus far, but rather what is yet to come. She’s currently working on her MA in fashion design knitwear with plansto continue building her brand.

4392_1445.jpg

Dress By Jean Paul Gaultier

A lavish and impractical fabric, lace has long been associated with affluence and rank‰ÛÓwhen worn with a crown, the implications are even more royal. Jean Paul Gaultier, whose iconic autumn/winter 2007 collection was teeming with crowns (some expertly woven with the models’ own hair), has made royal associations with his brand de rigueur. So naturally, when selecting designers for the queen-themed exhibition, Gaultier was top of mind. As part of the Mother Figure theme, the designer’s gorgeously gothic creation plays perfectly into the archetype with this amazingly intricate and exceptionally beautiful lace frock.

4393_1445.jpg

Dress By Iris van Herpen

As with many things that attain great cultural significance, the complexities of this dress have been simplified for mass consumption with the coining of the unofficial moniker, “the snake dress.” How else could the human mind wrap itself around the serpentine twists and turns of an inanimate garment that seemingly takes on a life of its own? From Iris van Herpen’s 2011 Haute Couture collection, this dress represents the Mother Figure theme and is the exhibition’s first introduction to the snake symbol, known to reference the queen’s wisdom and judgement.

4394_1445.jpg

Wig By Charlie Le Mindu

With a collection of 13 wigs created especially for “A Queen Within,” Charlie Le Mindu’s already stellar reputation for bringing ingenuity to the craft of coiffure is further validated with this latest contribution. This piece, which is included in the Mother Figure theme, is on loan from the designer and was originally shown in spring/summer 2010. In the exhibition, Le Mindu’s wigs serve as artful prosthetic elements, and the multi-spectacle design of this one references the eyes as a symbol of the Mother Figure, with the exaggerated lips being a classic reference to femininity.

Charlie Le Mindu describes his relationship with Lady Gaga as “fun,” but we’re more inclined to label it as magical. Some of our favorite (and most provocative) fashion moments have undoubtedly been when the notorious singer was spotted (and inevitably heavily photographed) wearing Le Mindu’s designs. Whether it’s in the form of garments, headpieces or hair (or some electric combination of these), Le Mindu never ceases to amaze. It’s the texture and transformative qualities of hair‰ÛÓthe way a woman can change her look in just seconds‰ÛÓ that lures him to his admitted obsession with tresses. And there’s undoubtedly no shortage of musical powerhouses vying for Le Mindu’s attention. The designer is currently working with French singer Brigitte Fontaine and a new French band called La Femme, plus‰ÛÓin typical Le Mindu fashion‰ÛÓa clandestine collaboration with an unnamed famous pop star.

 

Recent Posts