FAM in focus: Designer Alexander McQueen is the star of ‘A Queen Within’

Editor’s note: If you haven’t yet seen the Fresno Art Museum’s stellar traveling show, “A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes,” which runs through Jan. 8, then you need a pep talk. Sure, when the exhibition you opened on July 30, you figured you had all the time in the world to make it to the museum. Now it’s in the final weeks.

Pictured above: Alexander McQueen’s pink and purple jacquard and feather floral dress (2012) is featured in ‘A Queen Within.’ Photo: Barrett Barrera

To offer last-minute encouragement, TMR offers a special package of coverage. In a CMAC video production I posted last month, I took a tour with museum curator Sarah Vargas, who offers keen insights about the “Queen Within” show. (You can read my short post introducing the video or go directly to it on YouTube.) TMR also features two articles written by local fashion journalist Sarah Delgado, a Fresno State journalism major. Delgado attended a lecture at the museum by Shannon Bell Price about fashion designer Alexander McQueen and wrote the story below. She also attended Trashique, which she writes about in a separate story.

Special thanks to Delgado for her fashion enthusiasm and for helping to spread the word about the museum.

5 Things to Know About Alexander McQueen


By Sarah Delgado



“A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes,” currently featured at the Fresno Art Museum, puts a heavy emphasis on Alexander McQueen, a prominent designer whose 2010 death by suicide at the age of 40 stunned the fashion industry. Even with his short career, he left behind an impressive legacy.

The museum invited Shannon Bell Price, whose impressive resume includes being a curator for the Metropolitan Museum in New York (and working on the Met Gala), to give a lecture on Oct. 28. She focused her talk on the Met exhibition “Savage Beauty,” the famed 2011 McQueen retrospective held soon after his death.

Price broke down what McQueen was most known for: his expertise and craftsmanship in tailoring. In addition, Price put a spotlight on his innovative ways to create garments with the combination of silk weaves to plain weaves that appeared lustrous to sheer.

The “Queen Within” exhibition includes a gallery featuring the “Thespian” archetype that consists of almost all McQueen pieces. The room includes a dress that had not been finished when the designer had passed.

Here are Five Things to Know about McQueen from Price’s lecture:


The first labels that McQueen included in his clothes were pieces of his hair.

In his “Graduation” collection, McQueen’s label was not his name rather a lock of his hair curled encapsulated within a plastic tag.


McQueen was fascinated by birds, including pigeons. 

Price told the audience that when McQueen suffered from an inspirational block, he often turned to James James Audubon’s  book “The Birds of America.”


“Plato’s Atlantis” was the last show of McQueen’s and was the first ever to be live streamed over the internet.

Also included in this show was the debut for the “armadillo” shoes, made famous by Lady Gaga.


In the Romantic Exoticism gallery of the “Savage Beauty” show, McQueen consulted with Asian history to be able to accurately portray the garments.

Included in this collection was a series of silks and Chinese inspired embroidery. Through a modern lens, McQueen’s efforts can be seen as “culture-appropriating” but his efforts were determined by consulting with Asian countries.The embroidery work is seen in his “VOSS” collection.


The gallery titled Romantic Naturalism had a dress made with real flowers.

McQueen’s “Sarabande” collection features a dress composed of silk flowers and real flowers.

Sarah Delgado is a junior majoring in Media, Communications and Journalism at Fresno State. She is the incoming arts and entertainment editor for The Collegian, Fresno State’s student-run newspaper.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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