Press RoomMajor Fashion-Design Exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum Showcases Designs of Trailblazing Visionary Geoffrey Beene
Major Fashion-Design Exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum Showcases Designs of Trailblazing Visionary Geoffrey Beene
Nov, 29, 2022
Exhibitions and Special InstallationsFashion Design
Major Fashion-Design Exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum Showcases Designs of Trailblazing Visionary Geoffrey Beene
MOVE: The Modern Cut of Geoffrey Beene spotlights the late designer’s colorful, imaginative garments and provides an intimate view into his career and practice
PHOENIX (November 29, 2022) – This winter, Phoenix Art Museum will premiere MOVE: The Modern Cut of Geoffrey Beene, a major fashion-design exhibition celebrating the dynamic fashions of the late designer renowned for revolutionizing American sportswear and for his trailblazing runway ballets. Organized by Phoenix Art Museum with the support of Authentic Brands Group (ABG) and featuring garments drawn from the institution’s Geoffrey Beene Archive, the exhibition features a wide array of jumpsuits, jackets, and dresses, along with materials and ephemera from Beene’s personal archive, which will be displayed to the public for the first time. MOVE: The Modern Cut of Geoffrey Beene will be on view from February 1 through July 23, 2023, in the Ellman, Harnett and Orme Lewis galleries at Phoenix Art Museum.
“Geoffrey Beene was a fashion innovator who created garments that were unparalleled in their combination of extravagance, comfort, and precision,” said Jeremy Mikolajczak, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “MOVE: The Modern Cut of Geoffrey Beene illuminates his impact on contemporary fashion, from streamlined jumpsuits to athleisure wear, while offering a rare glimpse into his distinctive creative process. We are excited to present Beene’s groundbreaking designs and engage our Phoenix community with the latest archive of work in our internationally recognized fashion-design collection.”
Considered the godfather of American sportswear and one of the most whimsical designers in history, Geoffrey Beene created modern, minimal designs that prioritized comfort, mobility, and luxury. Born in Louisiana in 1927, Beene studied medicine for three years at Tulane University before pursuing a career in fashion. He attended New York’s Trapenhagen School of Fashion and eventually relocated to Paris to study at L’École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. With unrivaled tailoring skills, Beene got his first fashion job in 1951 as an atelier designer. He then worked as a womenswear designer for Teal Traina until 1963, when he launched his own label. In 1967, Beene designed a wedding dress for Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, daughter of the then-U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson and First Lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson. In the same year, he unveiled a sequined floor-length “football jersey” evening gown, illustrating his ability to not only appeal to the tastes of society’s elite but also create imaginative garments that reflected his distinct wit, humor, and artistic vision.
In the 1970s, following a searing critique that his party dresses resembled “concrete,” Beene moved away from structured silhouettes and adopted pliable materials such as double-knit jersey, which at the time were primarily used in t-shirts, to construct stylized designs that ensured mobility and comfort, molding to the wearer with ease. He went on to earn widespread acclaim for prioritizing comfort and luxury through designs such as versatile jumpsuits, intricately detailed boleros, and elegant evening gowns, fortifying his legacy as a visionary of modern dressing.
Beene’s rebellious spirit also extended to the runway. Beginning in the early ’90s, the designer eschewed the conventions of global fashion weeks and traditional catwalks, introducing various multimedia and performance elements into his presentations. His Fall 1991 show, which he deemed a “multifaceted media show,” was set at the School of American Ballet, utilized video projections and artistic lighting schemes, and featured posed mannequins and dancing models to create an immersive fashion experience. In 1992, he began working with the New York City Ballet, casting dancers alongside models to wear his garments while performing choreography to demonstrate the mobility engineered into his designs. Throughout his career, Beene received various awards and accolades, including eight Coty Fashion Critics Awards and a lifetime achievement award in 1998 from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He was also inducted into the Fashion Hall of Fame. His work can be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, de Young Museum, Fashion Institute of Technology, Victoria and Albert Museum, and Phoenix Art Museum, among many other internationally renowned fashion collections.
MOVE: The Modern Cut of Geoffrey Beene spans three galleries and offers deep insight into Beene’s remarkable career while showcasing his impeccably tailored and unapologetically playful designs. The exhibition’s first gallery features materials and ephemera from the designer’s personal archive on loan from ABG, which today owns and manages the Geoffrey Beene trademark. These objects, including photographs, contact sheets, press kits, and more, are on view publicly for the first time and provide an intimate view into Beene’s distinct design process and forward-thinking vision for women’s clothing.
“We are incredibly proud to partner with Phoenix Art Museum to celebrate Geoffrey Beene and his legendary career as a designer and visionary,” said Natasha Fishman, Chief Communications Officer and EVP Marketing at ABG. “Beene’s contributions to the fashion industry continue to make an impact on today’s trends, and we are thrilled be a part of this first-of-its-kind public exhibition.”
Visitors will also have the opportunity to experience a large selection of works drawn from the Geoffrey Beene Archive at Phoenix Art Museum, the majority of which are on view for the first time and were gifted to the Museum in 2019 by Patsy Tarr. These garments—many of which were custom-made for Tarr—include dozens of the designer’s most cleverly devised silhouettes from the late 1980s through the early 2000s that were conceived as part of a fully interchangeable wardrobe of jumpsuits, boleros, jackets, and gowns for the modern, on-the-move, professional woman.
The exhibition’s third and final gallery explores how Beene fused design with ballet and re-imagined fashion-show presentations altogether. Garments appear to dance throughout the gallery as if suspended in motion. The format and presentation of this particular section of the exhibition channels the energy and vibrancy of Beene’s groundbreaking runway shows.
“Geoffrey Beene was, at his core, a fashion rebel,” said Helen Jean, the Museum’s Jacquie Dorrance Curator of Fashion Design, responsible for the curation of this exhibition. “He disregarded trends and instead preferred to design garments that began as geometric shapes and evolved into silhouettes that moved naturally with the human form. This prioritization of movement, this celebration of boundless, maximum mobility is evident throughout his work, his process and his runway presentations. Plus, his evening gowns had pockets!”
Along with featured works and archival materials, MOVE presents various multimedia elements, including video interviews with the dancers, models, muses, and choreographers who helped bring Beene’s runway ballets to life.
About the Exhibition MOVE: The Modern Cut of Geoffrey Beene is organized by Phoenix Art Museum with the support of Authentic Brands Group, LLC. It is made possible through the generosity of Major Sponsors Ellen and Howard C. Katz, Partner Sponsor The Virginia M. Ullman Foundation, and Contributing Sponsors Miriam and Yefim Sukhman.
Additional support provided by KJZZ/KBACH, Arizona Costume Institute, the Kelly Ellman Fashion Design Endowment Fund, and Kimpton Hotel Palomar.
Admission is free for Museum Members; veterans, active-duty military, and their immediate families; and youth aged 5 and younger. Entrance into the exhibition is included in general admission for the public. Visitors may also enjoy reduced admission to the exhibition during voluntary-donation times on Wednesdays from 3 – 9 pm, made possible by SRP and supported in part through the generosity of the Angela and Leonard Singer Endowment for Performing Arts. For a full breakdown of general-admission prices and hours, see phxart.org/visit/.
High-resolution photography can be downloaded here. To request interviews, contact the Communications Office of Phoenix Art Museum at 602.257.2117 or firstname.lastname@example.org. About Phoenix Art Museum
Since 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has provided millions of guests with access to world-class art and experiences in an effort to ignite imaginations, create meaningful connections, and serve as a brave space for all people who wish to experience the transformative power of art. Located in Phoenix’s Central Corridor, the Museum is a vibrant destination for the visual arts and the largest art museum in the southwestern United States. Each year, more than 300,000 guests engage with critically acclaimed national and international exhibitions and the Museum’s collection of more than 20,000 works of American and Western American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. The Museum also presents a comprehensive film program, live performances, and educational programs designed for visitors of all ages, along with vibrant photography exhibitions made possible through the Museum’s landmark partnership with the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. To learn more about Phoenix Art Museum, visit phxart.org, or call 602.257.1880.
About Authentic Brands Group Authentic Brands Group (ABG) is a brand development, marketing and entertainment company, which owns a portfolio of global media, entertainment and lifestyle brands. Headquartered in New York City, with offices around the world, ABG elevates and builds the long-term value of more than 50 consumer brands and properties by partnering with best-in-class manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. Its brands have a global retail footprint across the luxury, specialty, department store, mid-tier, mass and e-commerce channels and in more than 9,100 freestanding stores and shop-in-shops around the world.
ABG is committed to transforming brands by delivering compelling product, content, business and immersive experiences. It creates and activates original marketing strategies to drive the success of its brands across all consumer touchpoints, platforms and emerging media.
ABG’s portfolio of iconic and world-renowned brands generates more than $24 billion in global annual retail sales, and includes Marilyn Monroe®, Elvis Presley®, Muhammad Ali®, Shaquille O’Neal®, David Beckham®, Dr. J®, Greg Norman®, Neil Lane®, Thalia®, Sports Illustrated®, Reebok®, Eddie Bauer®, Spyder®, Volcom®, Airwalk®, Nautica®, Izod®, Forever 21®, Aéropostale®, Juicy Couture®, Vince Camuto®, Lucky Brand®, Nine West®, Jones New York®, Frederick’s of Hollywood®, Adrienne Vittadini®, Van Heusen®, Arrow®, Tretorn®, Tapout®, Prince®, Vision Street Wear®, Brooks Brothers®, Barneys New York®, Judith Leiber®, Ted Baker®, Hervé Léger®, Frye®, Hickey Freeman®, Hart Schaffner Marx®, Thomasville®, Drexel® and Henredon®.
Image Credit: (Left to right) Geoffrey Beene, Scarf, Fall 2003. Silk satin. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Patsy Tarr; Geoffrey Beene, Jumpsuit, Fall 1994. Silk crepe. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Patsy Tarr; Geoffrey Beene, Jacket, Fall 2003. Silk duchess satin with silk satin appliques, metallic embroidery and paillettes. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Patsy Tarr. Courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum, Photo: Dan Vermillion