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Nine fashion queens ruling the World Chess Hall of Fame

Chess fashion, from left, sage, mother figure and enchantress
Provided by World Chess Hall of Fame

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Lovers of chess, royalty, fashion and psychology will make a move toward the World Chess Hall of Fame beginning this weekend. "A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion & Chess,” opening Saturday evening, features dozens of items related to psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes, or examples of people and their behaviors.

Sage, Mother Figure, Enchantress, Magician, Explorer, Ruler, Heroine, Mother Earth and Thespian are the nine archetypes. Nine is also the maximum number of queens a player may theoretically have on the board at one time. The words of curator Sofia Hedman explain more about the kind of queen each piece represents and the show’s designers.


This floor-length gown with copper fire embroidery by Alexander McQueen, is from
 a collection honoring his ancestor, condemned as a Salem witch. The Sage Queen’s strengths are “wisdom, intelligence and self-reflection, which she uses in the long process of analyzing and understanding the world ... Her biggest fear is being duped, misled or ignorant.”

Mother Figure

This black snake dress is by Iris van Herpen, who once said “all my energy is in my head and I feel as though my mind is snaking through thousands of bends.” If that doesn’t sound like motherhood, what does? “The matriarch queen is a parent, protector, helper, great teacher/mentor, supporter, altruist and saint. Her strengths are compassion and generosity. Her greatest fears are selfishness and ingratitude.”


The bubble dress by Hussein Chalayan is an ethereal piece whose transparency represents temptation but whose pearly, body-revealing sheen also hints at purity. “The Enchantress queen is a temptress, seductress, femme fatale, sensualist, intimate and enthusiast. Her strengths are her passion, gratitude and appreciation. She is also manipulative.”

From left, magician, explorer and ruler
Credit Provided by World Chess Hall of Fame
From left, magician, explorer and ruler


This oversized garment by Hideki Seo represents the chessboard’s 64 squares, eight horizontal ranks and eight vertical files. Although possible chess positions outnumber atoms in the universe, “computers have recently risen to prominence in the chess world for their ability to calculate millions of moves instantly; however, innate human creativity often allows man to stump machine with unpredictable moves in head-to-head competition.”


From the Seven Gods collection by Writtenafterwards, this design was inspired by the sea voyages of royal Europeans. “The Explorer Queen is an individualist seeker, adventurer, pilgrim and rebel. Her strengths are determination and independence .... She has a tendency to habitually blame others for inconveniences, but also drifts aimlessly and falls in love with the enfant terrible.”


With this dress by Pam Hogg, there’s no question who’s in power with the wearer’s face shielded behind sheer black panels. Before the Middle Ages, there was no queen in chess, but following a series of influential European female rulers including Elizabeth I of England and Isabella of Spain “the chess queen came into existence and progressively became the game’s most powerful piece.”

From left, heroine, mother earth and thespian
Credit Provided by World Chess Hall of Fame
From left, heroine, mother earth and thespian


This feathered dress by Gucci includes classic warrior elements of chain mail and epaulets and its display of the body is decidedly feminine. “The adventurous Heroine Queen is a soldier, warrior and savior. Her strengths are competence, a willingness to embrace challenges and bravery ... She is addicted to the thrill of the chase, challenges and relationships that lead to conflict.”

Mother Earth

This pink, feathered dress by Alexander McQueenrepresents the mystic, creative force of the Mother Earth Queen, whose greatest fear is not being able to reproduce. “The design of this section is based on the Tapu'at, mother and child labyrinth, which is the Hopi Indians’ symbol for mother Earth and of birth and rebirth.” Among the design's symbols is the pelican, which, according to legend, fed its children with blood after pricking its own breast. In several official portraits, Queen Elizabeth wore a pelican jewel, denoting selfless love.


This Viktor + Rolf sculptural coral dress represents a queen in control and relishing her role, its design involving convex mirrors which distort others and ourselves, to provoke laughter “The Thespian queen is an actress, entertainer, dramatist or comedian. She loves to amuse others and enjoys the rituals and drama of life. ... She could be overly emotional and at the extreme, even hysterical in her reactions to events or obstacles."

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.