Fashion That Defies Convention: NOMA’s First Fashion Exhibition Examines Archetypes of Womanhood

NEW ORLEANS, LA – 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, on view from February 21 through May 28, 2018. 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.

“The designers featured in A Queen Within showcase the competing, complimentary and often contradictory roles within the ideals of contemporary womanhood,” said Susan Taylor, the Montine McDaniel Freeman Director of NOMA. “The exhibition explores the complicated symbolism used by avant-garde designers while bringing a major fashion exhibition to New Orleans. This exhibition definitively demonstrates that fashion is art.”

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.

A Queen Within shows fashion’s possibility as an art form, full of glamour, theatricality, escapism, wit and innovation. “This is a sensational collection, full of work that stretches our ideas about fashion design,” says Mel Buchanan, NOMA’s RosaMary Curator of Decorative Arts & Design. “This clothing shows beauty, certainly, but also pain and humor. A Queen Within explores complex human emotions through the archetypes of a mufti-faceted fictional queen.”

Produced by an international team of thought-leaders, curators, artists, and fashion insiders, A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes is an exhibition developed by Barrett Barrera Projects and MUSEEA, toured internationally by Flying Fish. The New Orleans presentation is sponsored in part by Ashley Longshore and Millie Davis Kohn.

About NOMA and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden

The New Orleans Museum of Art, founded in 1910 by Isaac Delgado, houses nearly 40,000 art objects encompassing 5,000 years of world art. Works from the permanent collection, along with continuously changing special exhibitions, are on view in the museum’s 46 galleries Fridays from 10 AM to 9 PM; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 AM to 6 PM; Saturdays from 10 AM to 5 PM and Sundays from 11 AM to 5 PM. NOMA offers docent-guided tours at 1 PM every Tuesday – Sunday. The adjoining Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden features work by over 60 artists, including several of the 20th century’s master sculptors. The Sculpture Garden is open seven days a week: 9 AM to 6 PM. The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden are fully accessible to handicapped visitors and wheelchairs are available from the front desk. For more information about NOMA, call (504) 658-4100 or visit www.noma.org. Wednesdays are free admission days for Louisiana residents, courtesy of The Helis Foundation. Teenagers (ages 13-19) receive free admission every day through the end of the year, courtesy of The Helis Foundation.

For additional information and hi-res images, contact Margaux Krane: 504.658.4106 | mkrane@noma.org

Gallery of lo-res images