Press RoomNew exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum explores the whimsical world of 1960s paper fashion

New exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum explores the whimsical world of 1960s paper fashion

New exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum explores the whimsical world of 1960s paper fashion
Nov, 04, 2021

Exhibitions and Special InstallationsFashion DesignMedia Alerts

New exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum explores the whimsical world of 1960s paper fashion

Generation Paper: Fast Fashion of the 1960s showcases more than 80 rare and perfectly preserved objects

PHOENIX (November 4, 2021) – This winter, Arizona audiences will have the opportunity to explore paper garments from one of fashion’s most experimental and whimsical eras in Generation Paper: Fast Fashion of the 1960s at Phoenix Art Museum. Featuring work from 1966 through 1968 by designers and manufacturers such as Mars of Asheville, Scott Paper Company, The Disposables, Sterling Paper Fashions, Hallmark Inc., and others, the exhibition showcases more than 80 rare garments and accessories, including dresses, bikinis, skirts, hats, jumpsuits, rompers, beach cover-ups, and accessories made from paper, plastic, laminate, and other nonwoven textiles. Generation Paper will be on view from December 18, 2021 through July 17, 2022 in the Museum’s Ellman and Harnett galleries and highlights a special component of the Museum’s fashion-design collection.

“We are delighted to present Generation Paper: Fast Fashion of the 1960s to our audiences,” said Mark Koenig, the Interim Sybil Harrington Director and CEO. “The fashion-design collection at Phoenix Art Museum is home to one of the leading collections of paper garments in the United States, and Generation Paper is a unique opportunity for Museum visitors to experience these vibrant, fascinating, and imaginative designs.”

During the 1960s, paper dresses took the world by storm when Scott Paper Company launched an ingenious marketing campaign—an early forerunner of viral marketing strategies—to promote “Dura-Weve,” a nonwoven textile featured in their new disposable tableware line. With the idea that paper dresses were the future, other companies like Mars of Asheville joined the excitement and were soon selling 80,000 dresses per week.

Text Box: Image credit: James Sterling Paper Fashions, Dress, c. 1966. Silkscreen printed paper, 80% cellulose, 20% cotton. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Promised gift of Kelly Ellman. Image © Phoenix Art Museum.Generation Paper: Fast Fashion of the 1960s explores the phenomenon of the era through more than 80 rare objects selected entirely from the Museum’s comprehensive fashion-design collection. Featured exhibition works, donated in large part by longtime Museum supporter Kelly Ellman, include garments that mimicked kitchen countertop and carpet patterns as part of a promotional for Viking appliances; a knit paper mini dress by Mars of Asheville; coordinated dress, placemats, and napkins by Seagram’s 7, created so the ultimate party hostess could match her décor; and, mostly notably, the Campbell’s Souper Dress donated by Gail and Stephen Rineberg and the first two original Paper Caper dresses from Scott Paper Company donated by Kelly Ellman.

While featured works showcase the whimsical and imaginative side of fashion, Generation Paper also opens and encourages dialogue on the environmental impact of paper designs and other garments made from disposable media. The exhibition acknowledges that while visually provocative, these garments were not the future of fashion but rather were a fad fueled by the textile industry’s efforts to explore new nonwoven materials and the public’s desire for ultra-modern fashion and space-age technology. Visitors are encouraged to consider how the garments they purchase today may or may not be created sustainably and how contemporary designers continue to find ways to make clothing more environmentally friendly. Generation Paper will additionally include exclusive behind-the-scenes content that gives insight into the process of paper-garment conservation.

“The Museum’s fashion-design collection is home to an enviable selection of paper garments from the 1960s, some of which were created as commentary on social moments and political movements of the era,” said Helen Jean, the Museum’s Jacquie Dorrance Curator of Fashion Design, who curated the exhibition. “We are deeply grateful to Kelly Ellman for donating the vast majority of this special collection and are excited to showcase these incredible designs in Generation Paper. The exhibition encourages viewers to consider how fashion can sometimes be a playground for testing new technology and materials, a canvas for artists, and a whimsical experience for the wearer. I hope everyone who explores our fashion-design galleries this winter are inspired to look at the impact their clothing choices make and consider a longer commitment to their wardrobe. Perhaps we will find a stronger connection to one another if we are less ‘fast’ with our fashion and less ‘throw-away’ with our culture.”

About the Exhibition

Generation Paper: Fast Fashion of the 1960s will be on view from December 18, 2021 through July 17, 2022 in the Kelly Ellman Fashion Design Gallery and the Lila and Joel Harnett Gallery. It is organized by Phoenix Art Museum and made possible through the generosity of Arizona Costume Institute, the Kelly Ellman Fashion Design Endowment Fund and Stephen and Gail Rineberg, with additional support from the Museum’s Circles of Support and Museum Members. For more details about the exhibition, please visit link. 

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 general public. During voluntary-donation times, the exhibition is offered to the general public with pay-what-you-wish admission. Voluntary-donation times include Wednesdays from 3 – 7 pm and the first Friday of each month from 3 – 7 pm. For a full breakdown of general-admission prices and hours, see

High-resolution photography can be downloaded here. To request interviews, contact the Communications Office of Phoenix Art Museum at 602.257.2105 or

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, or call 602.257.1880.

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