Major fashion exhibition featuring Alexander McQueen and Ann Ray opens at Columbia Museum of Art
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Major fashion exhibition featuring Alexander McQueen and Ann Ray opens at Columbia Museum of Art
Alexander McQueen, Four-panel minidress, crystal kaleido- scopic print blazer, and multicolor silk moth print kaleidoscope dress Natural Dis-tinction, Un-natural Selec- tion, Spring/Summer 2009 and Plato’s Atlantis, Spring/Summer 2010 Photo Barrett Barrera Projects. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL Consulting.

COLUMBIA, SC.- The Columbia Museum of Art is hosting Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous, a major fashion and photography exhibition now on view through Sunday, January 21, 2024. Curated and organized by Barrett Barrera Projects, Rendez-Vous débuted at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California, and will make its second stop at the CMA before continuing its multi-city tour. The exhibition’s East Coast debut was celebrated at the Rendez- Vous Opening Party on Friday, October 6.

“McQueen continues to endure, inspire, and fascinate, and this exhibition gives rare access to be up close to a designer who transcended the world of fashion,” says CMA Director of Art and Learning Jackie Adams. “The intimate portraits Ann Ray captured of her friend reveal genuine moments of the designer’s creativity, strength, vulnerability, and individualism, giving viewers authentic moments of the person versus the persona.”

Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous explores the 13-year friendship and intimate creative collaboration between the late British designer Lee Alexander McQueen — one of the most renowned fashion designers of our era — and French photographer Ann Ray, whom McQueen personally selected to document his design process and the behind-the-scenes experience of his runway shows.

“You know, it was simple. He was part of my life, we loved each other, I had rendez-vous,” said Ray. McQueen and Ray’s friendship began with a simple agreement in which money, business considerations, and fashion had no place. “I like your images but I’m broke. Give me your photos, I’ll give you clothes,” Ray recalls McQueen expressing to her early in their relationship.

The exhibition features nearly 70 photographs taken by Ray, reflecting her unique relationship with McQueen between the years of 1997 and 2010, alongside garments McQueen gifted to her over the course of their work together.

Rendez-Vous also features 50 spectacular McQueen pieces from Barrett Barrera Projects’ collection, the largest private collection of McQueen’s work and owner of Ray’s full McQueen photographic archive.

Altogether, these garments, photographs, and corresponding ephemera tell the story of the iconic duo’s intertwined artistic journey and friendship.

“With Columbia being central to fashion-loving cities such as Charleston, Atlanta, Savannah, and Charlotte, Rendez-Vous has great potential to attract visitors regionally, and we're excited to be a hub for folks from our community and beyond to experience the work of a revered and respected icon of fashion,” says Adams.

Lee Alexander McQueen was born in 1969 to a working-class East London family. At the age of 16, he dropped out of high school to pursue his love of fashion — first as a tailor’s apprentice on Savile Row and later in the prestigious MA Fashion program at Central Saint Martins. In 1993, he founded his eponymous label, which he oversaw until his death in 2010. Between 1996 and 2001, McQueen served as the creative director of the storied Parisian couturier Givenchy, a subsidiary of the luxury conglomerate L.V.M.H. He was awarded British Designer of the Year multiple times, and in 2003 he was awarded the C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II. Over the course of his brief 18-year career, McQueen singlehandedly altered the course of modern fashion with his decade-defining silhouettes and expressive runway presentations that combined the conceptual depth of avant-garde performance art with the high glamor of luxury fashion.

Ann Ray is a multidisciplinary French artist, filmmaker, and author. Her professional career began while working for Givenchy in Japan in the 1990s. While living there, she became immersed in Japanese culture and craftsmanship, learning philosophies of creation from senseis in various trades such as ceramics, painting, and kimono design. These relationships had a fundamental impact on her own art and professional life at Givenchy. When she met Lee Alexander McQueen at Givenchy in Paris in 1997, marking the start of their 13-year creative partnership and friendship, the artistic point of view she acquired during her time studying under Japanese masters formed the basis of their early conversations. In the performing arts sphere, Ray works for Opéra Garnier in Paris and New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Her work has been exhibited at venues worldwide, including Palais du Tau in Reims, Palais Garnier in Paris, Ca’Pesaro Museum in Venice, the Museum at FIT in New York, and Rencontres d’Arles. Ray's artworks appear in art collections internationally, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and Fondation Carmignac (Paris). She has published seven books, including Nicolas Le Riche (2008), Love Looks Not with the Eyes (2012), Les Inachevés (2018), and Eyes Shut (2022). Ray works and lives in France between Paris and Brittany.

The Columbia Museum of Art
Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous
October 7th, 2023 - January 21st, 2024

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