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Try This: See “Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous” at the CMA

This must-see exhibition features pieces from McQueen’s most celebrated fashion collections along with photographer Ann Ray’s intimate, behind-the-scenes photographs, taken over the course of their 13-year friendship.

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Three fashion pieces by Lee Alexander McQueen on display in front of black background

The opportunity to see pieces designed by renowned fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen — up close, in person, right here in South Carolina — is not to be missed.

Photo by the AVLtoday team

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In case you missed it, the Columbia Museum of Art is currently home to two highly anticipated high-fashion exhibitions: “Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous” and “Sergio Hudson: Focused on the Fit.”

We’ll feature a behind-the-scenes look at the Sergio Hudson exhibition soon, so keep an eye out — in the meantime, we’re sashaying into your inbox to share our experience with McQueen.

What we tried:

We toured “Rendez-Vous,” organized and produced by Barrett Barrera Projects, on a sunny Saturday morning after a stroll through Soda City Market. After talking with Jackie Adams, the CMA’s director of art and learning, we couldn’t wait to see the exhibition for ourselves — and it didn’t disappoint.

What not to miss:

Seeing McQueen’s garments in person is as breathtaking as you might imagine, but we didn’t expect to be as wowed as we were by the photography component of the exhibition.

Photographs by Ann Ray

Ann Ray, whose intimate portraits and behind-the-scenes photos of McQueen’s runway shows are featured in the exhibition, met the designer in 1997 at the House of Givenchy in Paris.

Photo by the COLAtoday team

The 60+ photographs on display are all by Ann Ray, the only photographer permitted exclusive access to document the behind-the-scenes culture of McQueen’s runway shows. These photographs are works of art in their own right, and, in our opinion, worth the price of admission ($15) on their own.

What we’re still talking about:

Designed with low lighting to protect the haute couture and runway fashion pieces on display, walking through this exhibition is as relaxing as it is exhilarating. (I brought my toddler with me on a Stroller Tour, and he seemed to agree.)

How you can experience this:

Reserve advance tickets online or purchase at the door to tour the exhibition, and check out the museum’s upcoming programs. You can catch “Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous” through Jan. 21, 2024.

Fashion garments on display at different levels

Visitors to the museum can see 50 iconic garments designed by McQueen.

Photo by the COLAtoday team

Things to know if you go:

  • Experience: “Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous” at the CMA
  • Price: $15 for the general public, free for members
  • Website: www.columbiamuseum.org
  • Address: 1515 Main St., Columbia, SC 29201
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday; closed Monday
  • Social: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube
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