Friday, May 31, 2013

Exhibition: Fashion Independent: The Original Style of Ann Bonfoey Taylor

From June 1st through Sept. 15th, the Georgia Museum of Art will showcase the personal wardrobe of sportswoman, socialite and fashion icon Ann Bonfoey Taylor.  The nearly complete collection comprises custom-made day and evening wear from renowned couturiers such as Charles James, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Hubert de Givenchy and James Galanos.  Myriad pieces literally tailored to fit the life of this 20th-century Renaissance woman are juxtaposed with large-scale photographs by Toni Frissell. 

The museum’s director, William Underwood Eiland, initially saw the exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum (PAM), and was captured not only by the impressive display of textiles and design, but also by the clearly educational focus of the show.  Dennita Sewell, curator of fashion design at PAM, organized the exhibition. 

“I think what really drew Bill and the museum to this show in particular was its educational quality.  It is really a comprehensive survey of 20th-century design.  While the general public will be enthusiastic, true scholars of fashion history will be incredibly excited to see these designs; it is so much more than just a fashion show,” says the in-house curator, Mary Koon. 

Textiles dating from the mid-1940s to the 1970s required special hands for transport and display. Four couriers, trained for the special handling necessary, helped install the exhibition.  Italian mannequins appear in everything from cocktail dresses to riding boots—each piece custom made. Aside from the close to 200 items of clothing and accessories included in the exhibition, visitors will have the opportunity to study Taylor’s sketches of her own skiwear designs, a display of erudition and natural talent.  The integrity of the collection lies in its multifaceted testament to the quality of design in 20th-century art and fashion.

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