In the game of chess, the queen is considered the most powerful and often the most unpredictable piece. She embodies tradition whilst simultaneously redefining rules established by a patriarchal system. This intriguing dichotomy is the inspiration behind A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion and Chess.
Produced by an international team of thought-leaders, curators, artists, fashion insiders, and chess players, the exhibition explores the various archetypes of the queen, as well as how storytelling and symbols capture the imagination of innovative fashion designers.
Extremely rare pieces from one of the world’s largest private collections of Alexander McQueen’s work join garments by Gianfranco Ferré, Gucci, Hussein Chalayan, Iris van Herpen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Maison Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf and approximately 25 other European and Asian designers known for their daring, remarkable work. They range from established names to students still working in some of the most prestigious design schools in the world such as Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Central Saint Martins and Royal College of Arts in London.
A Queen Within investigates which archetypes can be seen to form the idea of a queen, or metaphorically a woman. The exhibition explores nine sides of a queen: The Sage, Mother Figure, Magician, Enchantress, Explorer, Ruler, Mother Earth, Heroine and Thespian.
The themes are based upon interpretations of some of Carl Jung’s most familiar archetypes. The story of each persona – its powers, its weaknesses, its significance, its sacrifice – is told through symbols, examples of fashion, photography, film and artwork.
“We have designed the exhibition itself to be a 3,200 square foot piece of art that viewers can experience on many different levels. They’ll be able to look closely for hidden symbols, stand back to appreciate the overall effect of enveloping visuals and reflect on each theme”
– Sofia Hedman, curator
To parallel the history of chess itself, symbols have been taken from royal representations existing in the fifteenth century onwards. In royal paintings, such as the Rainbow Portrait of Elizabeth I (c. 1600-1602), symbols including eyes, ears, serpents and wings were used to emphasise the queen’s presence. These same symbols, and many more, appear in the exhibition design as specially made sculptures.
Designer Serge Martynov, artist/wood carver Orlando Campbell and artist Karolina Kling were commissioned to contribute with the artwork and sculptures. The master of coiffure Charlie Le Mindu created bespoke wigs for the show.
After discovering Hieronymus Bosch’s Haywain triptych panel painting (1480-1500) on one of the Alexander McQueen dresses from the private collection, Flemish painters such as Bosch and Pieter Bruegel became the inspiration for the exhibition design and prosthetics.
Exhibition Objects By
Alexander McQueen, Anrealage, Bea Szenfeld, Chan Luu, Charlie Le Mindu, Gianfranco Ferre, Gucci, Hideki Seo, Henrik Vibskov, Hussein Chalayan, Iris Schieferstein, Iris Van Herpen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Jordan Askill, Josefin Arnell, Keta Gutmane, Koji Arai, Maiko Takeda, Maison Martin Margiela, Michael Drummond, Minju Kim, Noritaka Tatehana, Octavia Xiaozi Yang, Pam Hogg, Rein Vollenga, Rejina Pyo, Ryohei Kawanishi, Sandra Backlund, Serena Gili, Shaun Leane and and Daphne Guinness, Tabitha Osler, Viktor & Rolf, and Writtenafterwards.
Selected works from famed photographer Anne Deniau’s recent book, Love Looks Not with the Eyes: Thirteen Years with Lee Alexander McQueen, which contains over 400 never before seen photos of Lee Alexander McQueen shot behind the scenes are highlighted in the exhibition, as well as bespoke head pieces commissioned from the master of coiffure, Charlie Le Mindu.
About the Curator
Sofia Hedman, Fashion Curator and Exhibition Designer
Sofia Hedman has curated and designed numerous exhibitions in London, Tokyo and Stockholm. Her central area of interest and expertise is conceptual fashion and art, and the history of fashion combined with a keen commitment to experimental fashion curation. She has investigated what can be deemed characteristics and codes for avant-garde fashion curation and their implications for contemporary exhibitions.
Sofia has published, taught extensively, lectured and supervised in Stockholm at Beckmans College of Design, Architectural Museum, IUAV University in Italy as well as the university of Borås and The Swedish School of Textiles.
Archetypes of the Queen
The Sage Queen is a thinker, planner, risk-taker, expert, and philosopher. Highly educated and extremely wise, she has profound knowledge. Her strengths are wisdom, intelligence, and self-reflection, which she uses in lengthy processes of analysing and trying to understand the world. Her biggest fears are being ignored or tricked by others and of feeling deluded. Her weakness is being consumed by the everlasting study of details without ever moving in a direction. Her ability to see both sides of an issue can lead to an inability to act.
The Mother Figure
The Matriarch Queen is an altruist, parent, carer, protector, great teacher, and mentor. She comforts and gives support to those confused and in need of guidance. Her strengths are patience and consideration for fellow women, men, and children. She provides love to help others flourish. Her greatest fears are the ungratefulness of others, disharmony, and her own selfishness. Her main weakness is that she can easily become a martyr and make others feel guilt.
The Enchantress and Temptress Queen is a seductress, femme fatale, sensualist, and enthusiast. Her strengths are passion, wit, and spiritual and bodily appeal. She demonstrates appreciation, but is also capable of manipulation. She is happiest when she mesmerises all those around her. Her greatest fear is being a lonely wallflower, undesirable and unloved. Her weakness is an undervaluation of wisdom and her constant desire to have psychological power over men.
The Magician Queen is the visionary artist, the ethereal catalyst or inventor, the charismatic leader who can make the seemingly impossible reality. Her strengths are spirituality, intuitiveness, creative energy, imagination, and resolving problems. Her biggest weaknesses are manipulating others and perfectionism, as well as expectations of praise and reward for her work.
The Explorer Queen is an individualist, seeker, adventurer, pilgrim, and rebel. Her strengths are determination and independence. The rebel is needed for growth and progression in a society. She accepts challenges and has the power to reject authority in order to continue being authentic and free. Her greatest fears are conventionality, inner emptiness, and boredom. She has a tendency to habitually blame others for inconveniences, but also drift aimlessly and fall in love with the enfant terrible.
The Ruler Queen is the leader queen, a role model. She aims to create a prosperous and successful family or community. Her strengths are control, authority, and accountability. Her greatest fears are chaos, being dethroned, and being alone. If the Ruler Queen is threatened or unsettled in an untrustworthy environment, she may become emotionally unstable, arrogant, and defensive, making her impossible and prone to irrational demands.
The adventurous Heroine Queen is a soldier, warrior, and saviour. She has a strong sense of morality and is always in need of a battle to fight. Her strengths are competence, a willingness to embrace challenges, and bravery. Her greatest fears are weakness, softness, and cowardliness. She enjoys working hard for her relationships. She is addicted to the thrill of the chase, challenges, and relationships that lead to conflict.
The Mother Earth
The Mother Earth Queen is the mystic, creative, powerful life-giving force. Her strengths are primitive strength, instinct, and stability. Her greatest fear is not being able to reproduce.
Blessed with imagination, the Thespian Queen is an actress, entertainer, dramatist, or comedian. She loves to amuse others and enjoys the rituals and drama of life. She is keenly aware of the archetypal power contained in the masks of comedy and tragedy. Her great fear is to be constricted by routine and the inability to entertain herself and others. She would tend to dismiss the practical and mundane aspects of life. She could be overly emotional and at the extreme, even hysterical in her reactions to events or obstacles.
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