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August 28 2014

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Christie’s Hosts Old Queens and New

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Alexander McQueenIn the age of Middleton mania, there’s no shortage of mythology (or obsession) surrounding what it means to be a queen.

On June 4, Christie’s will unveil a preview of new exhibition, A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion, and Chess, which, opening in October at the World Chess Hall of Fame in Saint Louis, examines the principal monarch from a freshly cerebral perspective.

“It all started with the chess museum in Saint Louis,” relayed Swedish curator Sofia Hedman of the impending preview. “The idea is that each piece on the chessboard can be seen as a different personality, and the queen incorporates the different personalities a woman can have—the enchantress, the explorer, the ruler, the mother, and others.”

Rare pieces—Hussein Chalayan’s iconic bubble dress from Spring 2007, Maison Martin Margiela’s Spring 2001 vest made entirely from baseball gloves, and more than a few ornately embroidered gowns by Alexander McQueen (left)—are placed among lesser-known new works from “very, very unpredictable and very experimental” designers, like Charlie Le Mindu and Jordan Askill. Each touches on a different element of the regal persona, with plenty of reference to royal Dutch portraiture from the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries.

Charlie Le Mindu SS 2010

“It’s constantly evolving, in a way,” said Hedman of the queen archetype. “Different types of queens go in and out of fashion, but I think there’s something very solid and traditional about the queen concept—and right now, with last year’s Jubilee, Dolce & Gabbana’s [Fall] show, and in the work of so many other designers, she’s in the air somehow.”

A portion of A Queen Within will be displayed at Christie’s during an invite only preview in New York, on June 4. The full exhibition will open at the World Chess Hall of Fame, in Saint Louis, on October 19, 2013, and run through April 18, 2014.

Photos: Anne Deniau (Alexander McQueen); Courtesy of Charlie Le Mindu

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Dept. of Culture