Phoenix Art Museum Presents

FLORAL FASHIONS

Text and Images courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum

George Halley, Evening dress, fall 1969. Satin, velvet, silk and organza. Gift of Carol Schatt, from the Estate of Nina Pulliam.

Margaine-Lacroix, Wide sash or girdle embroidered with multi-colored taffeta roses, chenille and wooden bead embroidery, 1921. Taffeta, chenille, and beads with embroidery. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Stone.

Marc Jacobs, Coat, spring 2002. Leather with silk floss embroidery. Gift of Arizona Costume Institute and Ardie and Steve Evans.

Adrian, Dress, 1945. Rayon crepe. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum. Gift of Mrs. Tom Pollock.

The exhibition, spanning four centuries, explores the influence of flowers on fashion and includes designs by Prada, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Comme des Garçons, Charles James and Slava Zaitsev among others.

Opening on April 13, Phoenix Art Museum will present Flora in the Kelly Ellman Fashion Design and Orme Lewis galleries. Spanning the 18th century through the present, the exhibition will feature more than 30 botanical-inspired ensembles and accessories for women, men and children to trace the evolution of floral fashions throughout history. 

Drawing exclusively from the collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Flora will showcase historical garments alongside pieces by such designers as Prada, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Comme des Garçons, Charles James, and Slava Zaitsev. The exhibition will also highlight various textiles and embroidery and embellishment techniques used by designers to incorporate flower motifs, patterns, and silhouettes into their creations. 

“We are delighted to present Flora to our Phoenix community,” said Amada Cruz, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “Flora will bring together many timeless pieces from the Museum’s fashion collection to showcase the breadth and depth of our holdings, and we look forward to sharing this flower-inspired exhibition with our audiences in Arizona.” 

Presenting a wide range of historical and contemporary fashions, Flora will explore how designers across centuries have interpreted flowers and the botanical world through their work. Garments from the 18th and 19th centuries will showcase traditional, realistic representations of flowers, whereas modern pieces will feature bold, abstract floral prints and silhouettes inspired by organic shapes. Exhibition highlights include an embroidered leather coat and boots by Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton; a 1951 petal dress by Charles James; and a skirt and jacket by Slava Zaitsev, known for his colorful, theatrical designs often adorned with floral patterns and inspired by Russian folk costumes. 

Flora will also feature objects recently acquired by the Museum, including an ensemble from the Spring/Summer 2019 collection of Comme des Garçons, purchased with funds provided by Arizona Costume Institute, a support group of Phoenix Art Museum. The contemporary ensemble includes a slouchy, black tuxedo jacket paired with rose-print trousers, distinguished by their abstract, multidimensional silhouette suggesting a flower form. 

“Flowers are a beloved, classical theme explored by fashion designers throughout history,” said Dennita Sewell, the Museum’s Jacquie Dorrance Curator of Fashion Design. “With its breadth of historical and contemporary garments and accessories, Flora will illustrate how the approach to representing flowers in fashion has evolved from realism and naturalism to abstraction, hyper-abstraction and hyper-realism.” 

In addition, the exhibition will highlight textiles and various embroidery and embellishment styles, illustrating the creative ways in which designers through the centuries have interpreted botanical forms in fashion. A linen suit by Prada from 2003 showcases raffia-embroidered rose buds on netting, the bohemian styling of a Givenchy couture dress from the 1960’s is enhanced with a scattering of wildflowers and a piece by Yves Saint Laurent features an all-over print of American Beauty Roses on silk crepe de chine. 

“In an era when we view most things digitally, Flora will underscore the significance of materiality in fashion design,” Sewell said. “The exhibition will provide viewers with the opportunity to look closely at an object and examine its details to help build an understanding of how and why designers use specific materials and techniques to articulate their ideas and inspirations.” 

Along with showcasing the richness of the Museum’s fashion collection, Flora will explore the enduring influence of flowers on fashion while demonstrating how inspiration drives design. With its range of material and deep insight into the creative process, the exhibition will encourage viewers to contemplate a well-known topic and discover the subtle, bold, and sometimes surprising ways in which fashion can reflect the natural world. 

April 13 – August 18

Flora

Phoenix Art Museum

www.phxart.org