"Brilliant, dynamic, and provocative, the British fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen founded his eponymous label in 1993 and also led design at Givenchy between 1996 and 2001. Soon after he joined Givenchy, he met French photographer Ann Ray, whose stunning photographs recorded and inspired McQueen’s work behind the scenes and in runway shows for the next thirteen years. Combining Ray's intimate portraits and backstage images, along with key garments from McQueen’s most celebrated fashion collections and design drawings, this exhibition provides a unique insight into the creative process of this influential and complex figure. Rendez-Vous is organized and produced by Barrett Barrera Projects."
McQueen is known as "one of the twentieth century's most visionary designers" with his highly artistic fashion designs appealing to, and studied by, many people.
While arriving at the exhibit, a story began to unfold of the professional friendship and artistic connection of both McQueen and Ray. McQueen, the talented fashion designer, and the equally talented photographer, Ray, who had an eye for the photographic beauty in McQueen's works as her own subjects. From the first room of the exhibit, and throughout, both of McQueen and Ray's works are prominently displayed.
The opening signage explains that McQueen was a "troubled artist" who kept a tight-knit group of collaborators, one such person being Ray. The partnership between the two began in 1997, lasting 13 years, and 43 photographic collections, with Ray documenting McQueen's work and creative process with her photographic works. Several times throughout each of the 13 years the two collaborated, McQueen and Ray would have a "Randez-vous- a weird, unexpected, warm, essential meeting."
Ray had exclusive access to McQueen during this collaboration period, and thus, the fruits of this exhibit were created...
Enter with me into the second room of the exhibit, where a line-up of six exquisitely tailored coats and a dress are displayed, created by McQueen throughout the years 1998-2003.
It is evident when studying the details and fit of these fashion designs that McQueen has a tailoring background. McQueen's designs are dramatic and striking. I love the flow of the exhibit as I began to enter into a labyrinth of rooms, that take the museum patron from one faze of McQueen's career seamlessly into the next. The garments were displayed in such a way, that the details and craftsmanship of each article of clothing were highlighted and showcased. The rooms are dark, but the garments and photographs are lit by a spotlight further adding to the dramatic effect of these artistic creations.
Here are a few closer photos of this second display:
The following area of the exhibit introduces more of Ray's work and describes how McQueen was impressed with Ray's photographs. However, back in 1997, as McQueen was just starting out in his career as a fashion designer, he was unable to afford Ray's photographs. "The two established a barter system", where McQueen would exchange custom clothing created by him for Ray's photographic services.
Here are four fashion ensembles that McQueen created for Ann Ray, as well as photographs taken of McQueen and his models by Ray.
You can see here that Ray's photographs are not typical of Fashion Photography, but are more editorial, and artistic. This photographic approach really pairs well with McQueen's fashion design aesthetic. McQueen's clothing is artistic and dramatic, which I felt was really highlighted by Ray's stunning black and white photos.
Now, let's reflectively stroll through the rest of the exhibit rooms...
The dress pictured here, front and center, is called Eshu from McQueens Autumn/Winter 2000 Collection. This dress has been a favorite design of mine ever since I learned of Alexander McQueen back in fashion design school. I recall the first time I saw a photo of this moss covered dress, in a book, while studying fashion, and how impressed I was with the look. However, nothing could prepare me for how exquisite this dress was in real life! The moss-like effect is achieved by glass beadwork! The skirt is made with real horsehair! It is absolutely gorgeous in person.
The plaque on the display said this about Eshu:
"Eshu A/W 2000
Glass Bead and Horsehair Midi Dress
For his A/W 2000 Collection, McQueen explored the ideas of primitivism and tribalism in fashion. The collection was rich with references to traditional African dress, such as Ndebele neck rings and Samburu beadwork, and drew its title from Yoruba deity Eshu, the personification of mischief. This dress is a case study in couture dressmaking techniques as well as a collision between Western dress aesthetics and non-Western craft traditions. Although it was not uncommon for designers to derive inspiration from other cultures in the late 1990's, present conversations surrounding the ethics of such cross-cultural borrowings forces a reassessment of this collection. Specifically, one needs to consider the extent to which it blurs the boundaries between respectful appreciation and cultural appropriations."
I found the story behind the following Embroidered Evening Coat by Alexander McQueen, extremely interesting. This coat features a "Bespoke Textile" created as a tribute to McQueen's friend Annabelle. The textile features embroidered words of Edgar Allen Poe's poem "Annabelle Lee" in gold thread!
The fashion designs by McQueen were not only a marvel to gaze upon, but were highly inspirational to me. I love how McQueen played with the shape of silhouettes, added artistic elements, and incorporated many intricate details in his designs. I loved how the fabrics McQueen selected for his collections were luxurious, with his designs often incorporating a mix of texture and color. I also greatly enjoyed the photographs by Ann Ray, who I had not been familiar with previously to this exhibit. Her work was equally inspirational to me. The photographs truly captured a moment in time of fashion history...
A Tailoring Background...
One of the final sections of the exhibit showcased McQueen's tailoring background and expertise, as well as patterns he had drafted, and mock-ups he had created of coats. It might be a surprise to many without sewing knowledge, to see how these fashions are created and constructed! The back wall of this room featured behind the scenes photos of McQueen's fashion shows, while a video played showing footage of McQueen's life.
I found this exhibit to offer such a complete picture of not only McQueen's works, but also of his creative process.
"The Dressing Room" An Interactive Gallery
While concluding the tour of the McQueen/Ray Exhibit, the last room to explore is The Dressing Room, an interactive gallery filled with fashion themed activities for all ages!
I was particularly impressed with this area, since my visit to The Crocker was accompanied by my husband and our two youngest children. Our young girls were delighted by the hands-on activities, including the first one we came upon, a magnetic doll dressing board, where you can create a fashion look for Alexander McQueen himself!
Additional activities included a doll clothing design station, learning basic embroidery stitches, identifying fabrics, matching fabrics, as well as dressing up in real designer fashions, and hitting the runway!
Here are a few photos of my husband and I enjoying the interactive activities with the little ones, it was really fun!
The Crocker: Then and Now
Although the "Rendez-Vous: Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray" Exhibit was temporary, The Crocker Art Museum is a fascinating place, all on its own. The museum is comprised of three buildings joined together, including two 1800's Victorian mansions, once owned by the wealthy Judge Crocker, and a modern 2010 building connected to the back. The Victorian mansions had been used as a residence to the Crocker Family, and an art gallery back in the late 1800's, and then gifted to the City of Sacramento in 1885. The museum is considered the oldest in California, and is now full of amazing collections of fine art, pottery, porcelain, and more.
Check out these lovely photos of The Crocker Art Museum grounds and interior. If you are fascinated by architecture and interior design of the past, as I am, you will see that this museum is a historical dream!
I greatly enjoy any chance I get to visit The Crocker Art Museum, in Sacramento, California, and find it equally enjoyable that this time I was able to take you with me on this blog-tour of The Rendez-Vous: Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray Exhibit, which was absolutely fantastic!
I always enjoy seeing designer fashions in a museum, and I am always on the lookout for these types of exhibits! If you enjoyed this article, check out related articles that I have written in the "Related Links" section below.
Let me know, what was your favorite McQueen design, or Ray photograph from this exhibit, in the comments below!
See you at the next fashion museum exhibit!
Today my Husband, Javier, and I visited The Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles located at 2982 Adeline Street in Berkeley, California. The Museum and Museum Shop are open Monday thru Saturday from 12pm until 6pm, and is a short walk from the Ashby BART Train Station.
Javier and I had never visited this location before, and we were both instantly impressed with the large retail store filled with abundant supplies for lace making, embroidery, and many other creative projects, as well as the vast historical artifacts preserved and on display.
The Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles was established in 2004, “to share and sustain the extensive collection of Kaethe and Jules Kilot, consisting of lace, textiles, costume, a related library, and the tools of the textile arts” (from the brochure Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles). The retail store was founded in 1965.
Take a look at just a few of the lovely displays of Historic Lace, Lace Parasols, and Lace Art that are currently on display...
The Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles has a collection that represents "40 years of dedication to the preservation of the finest of human handiwork" including "thousands of specimens from pre-Columbian Peru... the 17th and 18th Century European Courts, and examples of machine age exemplifying the 19th Century Industrial Revolution" (excerpt in quotations from the brochure Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles).
Here a few photos I took of some of the amazing collection pieces of Historical Lace Collars on display, as well as examples of Historical Black Lace Work:
In addition to the beautiful Historical Lace Artifacts on display, Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles offers rows and rows of Embroidery Floss and Threads of all colors, and fiber content, available for purchase. Recently, over the past few years, I myself started to practice Hand-Embroidery Techniques and Designs, and I immediately fell in love with the abundant Embroidery Supplies for sale here! I highly recommend Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles for all of your Embroidery needs!
Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles also offers beautiful Bridal Veils and supplies to create your own unique Bridal Accessories!
Have you ever made your own hat? Look no further for Hat Making Supplies such as Hat Frames for all the various hat styles you can possibly think of!
Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles also has an extensive collection of Historical Costume Patterns... As well as Hoop Skirts, and Petticoats of all shapes and sizes!
I was also very impressed by the extensive assortment of Corset Making Supplies, such as Corset Busks, Grommets, and Boning!
Another gem I was pleased to find here, is a plentiful library "focusing on lace, textiles, and costumes, including over 12,000 items of books, patterns, articles, and other ephemera" (excerpt in quotations from the brochure Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles).
I also enjoyed finding vintage inspired notions such as Ring Finger Pin Cushions, Spool Knaves, as well as ornate scissors, and scissor holders. Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles also carries a wide range of needle-working tools for knitting and crochet.
Check out this delightful Bobbin Lace art, titled "San Francisco". This piece was handmade in the 1970's by the members of The Northern California Lace Guild, and donated to the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my visit to The Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Berkeley, California! Check out their web-site, www.lacismuseum.org, for more information, or to sign up to the "Friends of the Museum" bi-weekly newsletter. Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles also offers Lace Making Classes. Admission is currently free of charge.
I hope that you have a Fantastic Day! Until next time, dear Readers!
Last week, my Fiancé, Step-Children, and I, took a day trip from Hayward, and journeyed across the bay, to The Legion of Honor, located on Land’s End in the beautiful city of San Francisco. Although I grew up in the East Bay Area, I relocated to the Central Valley as a teen, limiting my exposure to historical sites of the Bay. I had never visited this museum previously, and was happily surprised to find a tranquil palace atop rolling hills veiled by a curtain of cloud-like fog.
The building itself is a large Neo-Classical structure, a three quarter scaled replica of Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris (1788), and was completed in 1924. When walking up to the museum entrance, I felt like I was walking back in time, as a colonnade of large Ionic Columns peered down upon myself and the other lowly human visitors staring up in awe. Although I adore architectural design, the reason for our visit, was not to study the architecture of the building, but to “ooo” and “ahh” over another type of human design… The “High Style” Fashion Exhibit, which had traveled all the way from the East Coast, to make its appearance here, in the West!
The Legion of Honor
I love visiting museums. I have always enjoyed not only creating art, but admiring the masters of art of times past, for as long as I can remember. My family and I arrived at The Legion of Honor with sketchbooks in hand, eager to draw out any inspiration we might glean from our trip. Before making our way to the "High Style" Exhibit, we leisurely walked through the large rooms of historical paintings, sculpture, and other artifacts currently on display. Check out a few of the photos that I took:
One of my favorite exhibits we came to, were the mammoth tapestries on display from The Triumph of the Seven Virtues Series, 1535. They were so intricate in detail, and beautiful in color. I could only image how vibrant the colors would have looked when these tapestries were first woven almost 500 years ago!
And now, for the real treat! The "High Style" Exhibit!
The “High Style” Exhibit is composed of selected Masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When I first heard of this exhibit’s arrival, I knew I had to, (absolutely, positively, had to) see it for myself. Can you imagine, my fellow fashion lovers, being in the same room as vintage pieces designed by the masters we have all studied and loved? Worth, Dior, St. Laurent, Schiaparelli, and James, just to name a few! And to think, their gowns were right before me, in pristine condition, decades after their construction!
Here are some of the photos I took of this lovely exhibit, along with more in depth information I learned about the some of the designers.
The House of Worth
Charles Worth is often known as the man who started it all, the “Grandfather of Couture”. When Charles Worth, an Englishmen, started his dressmaking business in Paris, in 1858, he applied innovative concepts and artistic elements to dressmaking that had never been done before. Worth’s clientele were royalty, and other wealthy citizens of the day. The Brooklyn Museum obtained their first dresses that were made by The House of Worth in 1926, and continued to grow in their collection of Worth pieces. What I found most interesting is that Charles Worth, was the first designer for his design house. Following in his footsteps, was his son, Jean-Philippe Worth. Then, in the following generation after Jean-Philippe, was Charles' grandson, Roger. Fascinating how all three generations of Worth's were master couture dress makers.
Since her debut in 1927, Elsa Schiaparelli, an Italian born designer, captured the imagination of the fashion audience with her bold visual designs and uniquely surreal artistic qualities. Often, her designs include one-of-a-kind embellishments, such as piano shaped buttons, bright metallic threaded embroidery, or unique textile combinations. It is obvious that Elsa loved to push boundaries and create garments that were both functional, one of a kind, and, at times, bizarre. Her love of art, and great talent led to much collaboration with Surrealists artists such as Jean Cocteau, and Salvador Dali. Elsa Schiaparelli extended her talents not only to dress making, but Elsa also designed jewelry, shoes, and hats. Elsa Schiaparelli is one of my personal all-time favorites, and I find that she and myself have similar design aesthetics, as I too enjoy creating garments with bold unique designs and interesting color and textile combinations, as she once did.
"The Essence of Fashion is Change."
While exploring the displays presented in the "High Style' Exhibit, I could see clearly, the change in both silhouettes, use of textiles, and the progression of innovative concepts used by the designers over the course of the century. I loved that many of the costumes were free standing and not in any enclosures, which allowed viewers to lean over and see each stitch and design detail clearly. Following, are pictures that I took, in the museum, of Couture Designer pieces from the 1920's through the 1970's. I hope you gain as much inspiration from this beautiful collection as I did. Enjoy!
Charles James is by far one of the most fascinating designers I have ever viewed the creations of. His construction techniques are awe-inspiring. Interestingly the book, High Style, describes James as "not having had formal dressmaking training, he developed his own methodology based on mathematical, architectural, and sculptural concepts as they related to the human body."
I was able to capture a few of his stunning works of art in the following photos: Enjoy!
I hope that you enjoyed this article about my recent visit to the Legion of Honor! Be sure to subscribe to my blog by clicking the "RSS Feed" Button to the right-hand side of your screen, under my Author Bio!
Reeder, Jan G. High Style: Masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 4th Printing, 2014.
Tortora and Eubank. Survey of Historic Costume. Fairchild Brooks Publishing. 4th Printing, 2011.
Hello Readers! Welcome to my Blog! I am Roxanne Rodriguez Rangel, a Fashion Designer from Northern California. I love all things Fashion, particularly historical fashion! Join me, as I take you around Northern California, covering fashion events and related topics!