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Is fashion merely fashion, or should it be seen as art? A newly opened, glittering showcase at Noma in New Orleans vehemently pleads for the latter. Entitled a Queen Within – Adorned Archetypes, the show is inspired by the late Alexander McQueen [1969-2010], a designer who was a master of building narratives through his collections and runway shows. Inspired by his sensitivity to historical and literary research, the exhibition uses fashion to explore seven archetypal personality types of a queen, or metaphorically, explores different archetypes of femininity, and how these mythic characters manifest through storytelling in fashion over the past decade.

The aforementioned types – mother earth, sage, magician, enchantress, explorer, heroine and thespian – are derived from recurring motifs in myths and fairy tales of world literature, and the story of each is elaborated on through pioneering fashion, photography, and artwork. The show at Noma, developed by Barrett Barrera Projects and Museea, not only shows fashion’s possibility as an art form, full of glamour, wit and escapism, but also innovation and even pressing social issues in today’s world. On display are more than 100 experimental gowns, headpieces, jewellery, and shoes by more than 50 of the world’s leading designers, artists and photographers, including Alexander McQueen, Charlie le Mindu, Iris van Herpen, Maison Martin Margiela, Hideki Seo and Comme des Garçons.

Images © New Orleans Museum of Art (Seth Boonchai, Ciel Liu Bei, Roman Alokhin and Museea)

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