ArtExhibitionsThe Collection: Greatest Fits (Vol. 1): The Art of Archiving Fashion

The Collection: Greatest Fits (Vol. 1): The Art of Archiving Fashion

October 9, 2024 - ongoing Located in Kelly Ellman Fashion Galleries

The Collection: Greatest Fits (Vol. 1): The Art of Archiving Fashion is the first in a three-part series of rotating installations that uncovers the Museum’s impressive fashion collection and Phoenix’s status as an exhibitor of globally iconic fashions.

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Phoenix Art Museum is one of few art institutions in the United States that continually collects, preserves, and exhibits works of fashion. The Museum began collecting fashion in 1966, when Arizona Costume Institute was founded to support the acquisition and preservation of garments and accessories of historical and aesthetic significance. Today, the PhxArt fashion collection houses more than 9,000 objects of women’s, men’s, and children’s dress spanning the 18th century through the present and is home to three special archives, including the Geoffrey Beene Archive, the Emphatics Archive, and the Ann Bonfoey Taylor Archive.

(Left to right) Bill Blass, Coat and Belt, 1960s. Cotton and patent leather. Gift of Joyce Harrison; Bonnie Cashin, Tangerine suede hot pants, 1973. Suede. Gift of Mr. Philip Stills; Greatcoat, 1960s. Suede. Gift of Barbara D. Shear; Diane von Fürstenberg, Leopard print jumpsuit, c.1977. Printed cotton knit. Gift of Mrs. Kelly Ellman

Greatest Fits is an ongoing, multi-year series that showcases the depth of the Museum’s fashion holdings. With more than 80 garments and accessories, Greatest Fits (Vol. 1): The Art of Archiving Fashion begins the series by tracing the evolution of the Museum’s collection from its founding in 1966 to the present day. The installation features archival works and early fashion acquisitions that highlight the impact of Arizona Costume Institute on the collection’s formation, while a graphic display of more than 20 all-black silhouettes visually represents defining moments in fashion history from the 18th century to contemporary times.

The exhibition also highlights vignettes of significant fashion “happenings” and themes, such as the Battle at Versailles, a high-fashion showdown between American and French designers in 1973; outstanding examples of avant-garde fashions; garments that draw inspiration from Romanticism and Greco-Roman culture; and technology-driven designs. Notable designers and houses represented include Fortuny, Schiaparelli, Dior, Balenciaga, McQueen, among others.

(Left to right) Jeanne Paquin, Black velvet tight-fitting evening dress with ostrich feather dropped skirt, 1930. Velvet (black), ostrich feathers. Gift of Mrs. Wesson Seyburn; Christian Dior, Black tulle evening bodice and tulle ballerina length evening skirt, 1954. Tulle (black). Gift of Mrs. Louis Coblentz; Yves Saint Laurent, Black wool tuxedo jacket and tuxedo-style pants, 1967. Wool. Gift of Mrs. David E. K. Bruce


The Collection: Greatest Fits (Vol. 1): The Art of Archiving Fashion is organized by Phoenix Art Museum and curated by Helen Jean, the Jacquie Dorrance Curator of Fashion Design at Phoenix Art Museum. It is made possible by Arizona Costume Institute.

All exhibitions at Phoenix Art Museum are underwritten by the Phoenix Art Museum Exhibition Excellence Fund, founded by The Opatrny Family Foundation with additional major support provided by Joan Cremin.



On view for a limited time, exhibitions present art from across the centuries and the globe, from iconic fashion to Old Master paintings, contemporary photography to historical objects of Asia.


Featuring more than 20,000 objects, the collection spans the globe, bringing the world to our city, and our city to the world.


Since 1986, Phoenix Art Museum has awarded more than $350,000 to over 200 Arizona-based artists through two annual artist awards opportunities.


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