A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes at New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), February 21 – May 28, 2018

“Showcasing rare pieces from one of the world’s largest private collections of Alexander McQueen fashion, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) presents A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes. NOMA’s first major fashion exhibition will feature contemporary designers showcased in an immersive gallery presentation. This exhibition’s bold couture explores different archetypes of femininity, and how these mythic characters manifest through storytelling in fashion over the past decade.

Designer Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) was a master of building narratives through his collections and runway shows. Inspired by his sensitivity to historical and literary research, A Queen Within uses fashion to explore seven archetypal personality types of a Queen, or metaphorically, of a woman: The Mother Earth, Sage, Magician, Enchantress, Explorer, Heroine and Thespian. These themes, based upon Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s work, are derived from recurring motifs in myths and fairy tales of world literature. The story of each feminine archetype—its powers, its weaknesses, its significance—is articulated in A Queen Within through pioneering fashion, photography, and artwork.

A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes features more than 100 experimental gowns, headpieces, jewelry, and shoes by more than 30 of the world’s most insightful contemporary designers. The exhibition includes household names like McQueen, Prada, Chanel and Comme des Garçons intermixed with other boundary-pushing fashion, like Chromat’s body-positive architectural looks and Iris van Herpen’s dresses that boldly use new technology.” — NOMA

Alexander McQueen, two-piece ensemble with multi-colored crystal print, Natural Dis-tinction, Un-natural Selection, Spring/Summer 2009. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL consulting. Photo Mattias Lindback.

Iris van Herpen, snake dress, Capriole Couture, 2011. Courtesy of Iris van Herpen. Photo M. Zoeter x Iris van Herpen.

Serena Gili, cashmere beaded top with golden fiberglass skirt, Discipline collection 2012. Courtesy of Serena Gili. Photo Saga Sig.

Alexander McQueen, silk print painting dress with gold painted feathers, Heaven and Hell pre collection Fall/Winter 2010. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL consulting. Photo Mattias Lindback.

Gucci, gold dress with feather embellishments, Spring/Summer 2011. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL consulting. Photo courtesy of LaForce & Stevens.

Charlie Le Mindu, Cloudy Day I headdress, 2013. Courtesy Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL consulting. Photo Ciel Lui Bei.

Alexander McQueen, green embroidered feather dress, Windows of Culloden collection, Fall/Winter 2006. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL consulting. Photo Sarah Carmody.

Comme des Garçons, red dress, Spring/Summer 2015. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL Consulting. Photo Sarah Carmody.

Jordan Askill, petal and panther headdress, Spring/Summer 2011. Courtesy Jordan Askill, Photo Jordan Askill.

Maison Martin Margiela, Courtesy of Maison Margiela. Cloud top worn with black knitted cocoon catsuit and black leather stilettos, Défilé collection Fall/Winter 2009. Photo Giovanni Giannoni.

Pam Hogg, black dress with collar, Spring/Summer 2013. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects and RKL consulting. Photo Pam Hogg.

Sarah Burton/Alexander McQueen, white floral platform heels, Spring/Summer 2011. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL consulting. Photo Sarah Carmody.

Omar Victor Diop, print, Aminata, 2013, from the Studio of Vanities series. Courtesy MAGNIN-A Gallery, Paris.

Viktor&Rolf, dress, Wearable Art, Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2015. Courtesy of Viktor&Rolf, Photo Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Raúl de Nieves, Day(Ves) of Wonder sculpture, 2007-2014. Courtesy of Raúl de Nieves & Company Gallery, New York. Photo courtesy of Raúl de Nieves.

Antoine Peters, sweater, Looong Sleeve, 2014. Courtesy of Antoine Peters. Virtual sketch by Antoine Peters.

Vivienne Westwood, Gold label UK, Tailored Chelsea Coat and River Dress, Mirror the World collection, Spring/Summer 2016. Courtesy of Vivienne Westwood. Photo Ugo Camera.

Prada, Italy, Platform shoes, Spring/Summer 2013. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL Consulting. Photo Sarah Carmody.

Comme des Garçons, Japan, Wool plaid jacket, Fall/Winter 2010. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL Consulting. Photo Sarah Carmody.

A Queen Within shows fashion’s possibility as an art form, full of glamour, theatricality, escapism, wit and innovation. “A Vivienne Westwood coat is from a collection that called for people to unite in an effort to save Venice, and the rest of our planet, from the effects of climate change. Minna Palmqvist’s mannequin busts capture the beauty of nonconforming bodies, showing how fashion’s pioneers are moving away from the standard size zero dress form. Gypsy Sport’s gender-fluid work is seen as the voice for a new generation that calls for a more global, inclusive world,” said exhibition curators Sofia Hedman-Martynova and Serge Martynov of MUSEEA.

Images courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA).