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Chess Meets Fashion in “A Queen Within”


By Toby McFarlan Pond

With unparalleled mobility and a tendency toward surprise, the queen is a force to be reckoned with on a chessboard. The World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis, Missouri, explores her role—in and out of the game—in “A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion and Chess,” a combination of fashion, photography, film and art opening October 19.

“’A Queen Within’ is a very layered, intricate exhibition that is really a 3,000-square-foot piece of art itself,” says curator Sofia Hedman. “I think people will be surprised by how clear the connection between chess, art, and fashion becomes once they've experienced it.”

Hedman examined different archetypes, studying those established by pioneering psychiatrist Carl Jung, and created nine different queen personalities—sage, mother figure, magician, enchantress, explorer, ruler, Mother Earth, heroine, thespian—that play out in the exhibit. Designers like Viktor & Rolf and Alexander McQueen are represented; look out for a bespoke diamond glove by Shaun Leane and Daphne Guinness, a bubble dress by Hussein Chalayan and Iris van Herpen's undulating snake frock.

All the objects convey a regal power and singularity, but the show goes far beyond royalty. “We want to spark an interest in chess among females,” says Hedman. “We want them to see the queen within themselves.” Through April 18, 2014; 314-367-9243; 4652 Maryland Ave.; worldchesshof.org.

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