Photos by Allyson Mace
Last night, ALIVE was thrilled to be a distinguished guest at The World Chess Hall of Fame’s exclusive New York preview of the upcoming St. Louis fashion exhibition, “A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion and Chess.”
So, what do chess, fashion and New York influencers have to do with one another? In short, the answer is Susan Barrett. Susan is the Executive Director of The World Chess Hall of Fame, and she’s incredibly passionate about raising awareness around the cultural and artistic significance of chess.
Joining an elite crowd of national and international fashion influencers, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the groundbreaking exhibition, showcasing one of the largest private collections of pieces by Alexander McQueen, in addition to a slew of garments from both well-known and emerging avant-garde designers.
I arrived in New York yesterday, with several outfit options and way too many pairs of shoes. The big event was taking place at Christie’s in Rockefeller Center, and the list of New Yorkers who were making an appearance made my mouth dry and palms sweat. Curator Sofia Hedman was busy all day working with artists and setting up the preview.
Each room of the exhibition (that will make its official opening at WCHOF in St. Louis on Oct. 19) explores a persona of the queen archetype: Sage, Mother Figure, Magician, Enchantress, Explorer Ruler, Mother Earth, Heroine and Orphan. The rooms will be arranged in a series of garment and art installations featuring the likes of not only McQueen, but also designers like Sandra Backlund, Hussein Chalayan, Gucci, Iris Van Herpen, Pam Hogg, Viktor + Rolf and Writtenafterwards, among others.
The event started at 6pm and was only two hours long, so being fashionably late was not an option. An army of young, beautiful people all dressed in black manned the check-in table. Throughout the night, if you needed anything at all, you knew to ask “one of the people in black.” I was at Christie’s in Rockefeller Center with the editors from Vogue and Vanity Fair—what else could I possibly want? The list of celebrities who came out to see the preview was long and impressive. ABC’s Deborah Roberts, CFDA’s Steven Kolb, fashion historian Valerie Steele, Decades’ Cameron Silver, fashion blogger and STL native Derek Blasberg and McQueen’s muse Annabelle Neilson all made appearances.
Also in attendance was New York Fashion Week founder Fern Mallis. I had the opportunity to chat with Fern, and after I gushed all over her, she handed me her card and told me she likes to check out regional fashion weeks and we should keep in touch. I almost fainted.
Although the list of New York influencers and celebrities was beyond impressive, perhaps equally impressive was the amount of St. Louisans who made the trip to support The World Chess Hall of Fame. St. Louis’ First Lady of fashion, Susan Sherman, was of course in attendance, as was Saks Fifth Avenue’s Tania Beasley-Jolly and Wells Fargo’s Atul Kamra, both corporate sponsors of the exhibition, in addition to Brown Shoe Company’s Kelly Malone and Peggy Reilly-Tharp. Also in attendance, were influencers like Sam Foxman, Jimmy Jamieson, Matt Strauss, Kevin Glazer, Jan Goldstein, Helene Sayad, Allyson Mace, Phil Slein, Kitty Ratcliffe, Laura Reeves, Amanda Cook, Kelly Peck and designers Emily Koplar and Anjali Kamra. It felt like we were with the St. Louis fashion family in the middle of New York City.
After Christie’s, we headed to the Monkey Bar, where we were wined and dined. I sat between designers Emily Koplar and Timo Weiland. Later, as we all said goodbye, I might have whispered to Sam Foxman, “This is the best night of my life.”
For the full story, turn to ALIVE’s July and August issues, where we’ll give you the background on how this stunning exhibition came to make its world premier in St. Louis, as well as an exclusive behind-the-scenes perspective as the exhibit unfolds.