Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous

Oct 5, 2024 — Jan 11, 2025

Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous explores the thirteen-year friendship and intimate creative collaboration between the late British designer Lee Alexander McQueen and French photographer Ann Ray, who McQueen personally selected to document his design process and the behind-the-scenes experience of his runway shows.

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 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. The exhibition also features over fifty key McQueen pieces from Barrett Barrera Projects’ collection, the largest private collection of McQueen’s work.

Both exhaustive and emotional, Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous provides a singular opportunity to reevaluate the life and legacy of a beloved but widely misunderstood figure, and to disentangle the person from the persona, the man from the myth. While there have been many exhibitions of McQueen’s work, the unprecedented diversity of objects in this exhibition enables a different kind of rendez-vous—one in which new and perhaps more truthful narratives emerge through proximity and comparison.

Organized and produced by Barrett Barrera Projects.

You know, it was simple. He was part of my life, we loved each other. I had rendez-vouz.” – Ann Ray

About the Artists

    Lee Alexander McQueen was born in 1969 to a working-class East London family. At the age of sixteen, 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 1992, 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 eighteen-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. 

    Multi­dis­ci­pli­nary French artist, filmmaker, and author Ann Ray was born in 1969. 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 thirteen-year creative partnership and friendship, the artistic point of view she learned in Japan 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.

Presenting Sponsor

Daniel and Pamella Roland DeVos

Exhibition Support

Support for this exhibition is generously provided by:

  • Wege Foundation
  • James and Mary Nelson
  • Jeff Gurney and Xuesi Li Gurney
  • Janet Gatherer Boyles & John Boyles
  • Erin Gravelyn
  • Haworth Helps
  • Dirk and June Hoffius
  • New Urban Home Builders
  • Susan and Jack Smith
  • Dr. Ghayas and Joy Uddin

Additional funding provided by the GRAM Exhibition Society.