Frist Art Museum / 919 Broadway, Nashville, TN May 30 - August 25th

Lee Alexander McQueen, Ann Ray

The Frist Art Museum presents Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous, a showcase of garments and photographs that explores the creative partnership between the late British fashion designer, Alexander McQueen, and his trusted friend, French photographer Ann Ray. Organized by Barrett Barrera Projects, the exhibition will be on view in the Frist’s Ingram Gallery from May 30 through August 25, 2024.

Lee Alexander McQueen (1969–2010) redefined contemporary fashion with his extraordinary ability to blend exquisite craftsmanship with imaginative storytelling. Mythologized in his own lifetime, he was characterized as a troubled genius and one of the most visionary designers of his time. The exhibition offers an intimate glimpse into the life and mind of McQueen, who was called Lee by his family and friends, through a selection of photographs taken over the course of 13 years by Ann Ray (b. 1969). With exclusive, unfettered access to McQueen’s world, Ray captured everything from contemplative moments in the design studio to the organized chaos backstage at runway shows. In total, she shot 43 collections, creating a massive body of work and an indelible record of McQueen’s process. At various moments during their collaboration, the designer and the photographer would have what Ray called “rendez-vous,” or “weird, unexpected . . . warm, essential meetings.”

The exhibition features 60 dress objects, including ready-to-wear, one-off samples, and examples of haute couture that span the arc of McQueen’s career, and 65 photographs hand-selected by Ray from her archive of over 32,000 negatives. Included among the dress objects are 10 garments that McQueen gifted to Ray, as well as 13 important garments that are exclusive to the Frist’s presentation, all of which are sourced from Barrett Barrera Projects in St. Louis, Missouri, the world’s largest private collection of McQueen’s works.

Seen together, this selection of works provides an opportunity to reexamine the life and legacy of a beloved but widely misunderstood figure and to disentangle the person from the persona. “While there have been other exhibitions of McQueen’s work, including the attendance record-breaking Savage Beauty project at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2011, one year after his death, the unprecedented inclusion of Ray’s photographs creates a rendez-vous in which new and perhaps more truthful narratives emerge,” writes Frist Art Museum senior curator Katie Delmez.


1. Ann Ray. Art and Craft, 2000. Archival gelatin silver print; 70 7/8 x 47 1/4 in. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects

2. Alexander McQueen. Nude knit and crystal embellished dress, Kaleidoscopic skull print blazer, and kaleidoscopic reptile print dress with beaded hips, Natural Dis-Tinction, Un-Natural Selection, spring/summer 2009 and Plato’s Atlantis, spring/summer 2010. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects. Photo: Barrett Barrera Projects