Columbia, S.C. – The Columbia Museum of Art is pleased to present Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous, a major fashion and photography exhibition on view Saturday, October 7, 2023, 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 will be 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.
About the Artists:
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.
Rendez-Vous Program Highlights:
Rendez-Vous Opening Party
Friday, October 6 | 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Join us to celebrate one of the most renowned fashion designers of our era with an exclusive sneak peek of new featured exhibition Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous. For one night only, your museum is pumping up the runway vibes in honor of the icon’s revolutionary fashion. Come revel in the moment. Get creative with your couture in an evening dedicated to unconventional style inside the galleries and out. Celebrate fashion and photography as you enjoy heavy hors d’ oeuvres, specialty cocktails, and inspired fun with a few hundred of your most fashionable friends. Each ticket includes a reserved time slot to see the exhibition, guaranteeing that the crowds you enjoy at the soiree won’t be clustered in the galleries. Complimentary valet parking. Food by Loosh Culinaire. Cash bar. One drink included with ticket. $100 / $75 for members.
Evening for Educators
Wednesday, October 11 | 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Educators from across the state are invited to join the CMA for an evening of art, wine, and light refreshments as they enjoy a private look at new featured exhibition Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous. Alexis Doktor, former fashion designer and costume tech for Alexander McQueen, provides insights on fashion and the designer’s work. Educators are invited to explore the exhibition galleries, learn about new tours, and try out lesson plan materials focusing on the new exhibition. Free. Registration required as space is limited. Attendees receive documentation for professional development renewal credit.
Runway Rendezvous Workshop
Sunday, October 15 | 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
In honor of new featured exhibition Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous, sashay over to the CMA for a runway workshop focused on mastering your model walk, boosting your confidence, and conquering the art of strutting in heels. Whether you dream of walking the runway or simply want to exude confidence in everyday life, this program is designed to elevate your runway game and boost your self-assurance. Participants dive into the fundamentals of runway techniques and learn the secrets to owning the catwalk. Experienced instructor Ciara Moss covers everything from posture and poise to perfecting stride. Plus, learn the importance of understanding shoes and how to optimize your walk for different types of footwear. This workshop is designed to benefit everyone, regardless of experience. Ages 15 and up. $45 / $38 for members.
Drag Bingo at the CMA
Thursday, October 26 | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Cover girl, you better work! In celebration of Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous, get ready to strike a pose at the return of Drag Bingo, hosted by drag queen extraordinaire Patti O’Furniture, featured on HBO’s We’re Here. Prizes for bingo winners as well as those dressed to impress on the runway. Ages 18 and up. Cash bar featuring fashion-forward cocktails and more. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Galleries open until 8:00 p.m. Individual tickets: $35 / 28 for members. 4-top table: $140 / $112 for members. 6-top table: $210 / $168 for members.
Members’ Rendez-Vous with the Curator
Mondays, October 30 and December 4 | 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Take an exclusive after-hours tour through Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous led by exhibition curator Jackie Adams. Enjoy drinks and light refreshments before getting up close and personal with the exhibition in a small group setting with invaluable insights from the person responsible for bringing this exhibition to life at the CMA. $75. Members only.
Arts & Draughts
Friday, November 10 | 7:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Columbia's most creative party is back, and this time it's celebrating Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous. Enjoy live music from Gamine and Candy Coffins, sets by DJ VooDoo Child, and a silent disco with DJ sets by L0V3. The Carolina Chapter of the Artistic Haus of Telfar presents a powerful message of love, acceptance, and inclusion celebrating the rich and diverse history of the LGBTQIA+ community through a kiki haus performance. Anton + Maxine & Tabitha Ott and Nori Noir present fashion shows, Beautiful Neighborhood’s Ginevra Hardin offers live styling displays, and Kelvin Davis of Notoriously Dapper gives Unique Perspective Tours of Rendez-Vous. Check out live screenprinting from Screened Out Printers of the official Arts & Draughts designed by Catawba artist Alex Osborn. Plus enjoy art activities like a DIY dyeing station with Chris Scott of Dyes Effx Art Ware (buy the Arts & Draughts t-shirt or bring your own duds), an upcycle fashion station by the Columbia Design League, a hand fan design station, printmaking with USC Printmaking, a fashion photo booth, and a scavenger hunt through the collection galleries with prizes from Mast General Store. Food for purchase from Cheese and Thank You, Los Chicanos, and Kusina Filipina. Cash-only bar with beer and wine from Weco Bottle and Biergarten featuring brews from Highland Brewing Co. including a special collaboration beer brewed just for this Arts & Draughts. $15 / $8 for members. Join or renew membership that night or volunteer for a short shift and get in free. Sponsored by Weco Bottle and Biergarten; Cool Care Heating, Air, Plumbing & Refrigeration; Mast General Store; and WXRY 99.3 FM.
Tour & Tasting: The Art of Drag
Wednesday, November 15 | 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Learn what drag as an art form means to local drag queens and kings as we tour the CMA Collection and featured exhibition Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous. Tasting hosted by Tim Gardner of the James Beard Award-nominated Lula Drake Wine Parlour. Tour at 6:00 p.m. Tasting at 7:00 p.m. Ages 21 and up. $65 / $52 for members. Priority registration for members only through September 20, 2023.
Lee Alexander McQueen and Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous is organized and produced by Barrett Barrera Projects. Presenting sponsor: Melissa W. Blanchard. Haute Couture sponsors: Dr. Suzan D. Boyd & Mr. M. Edward Sellers. Gold sponsors: Joyce and George Hill. Silver sponsor: Cool Care Heating, Air, Plumbing & Refrigeration. Bronze sponsors: Governor and Mrs. James H. Hodges; Truist; Barbara B. Boyd; Loosh Culinaire Fine Catering; Julianne Sojourner; Hotel Trundle. Benefactor sponsors: Joseph Bruce; Toni Elkins; Sandy and Sam McGuckin; Joseph F. Sullivan and Brenda L. Sullivan in recognition of Joseph Bruce; Julie and Mike Brenan. Media sponsors: Grace Outdoor; WXRY 99.3 FM. Grantors: City of Columbia; Experience Columbia SC; Richland County Government; South Carolina Arts Commission; Discover South Carolina; Town of Lexington SC.
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