Phoenix Art Museum Honors Fashion Designer Geoffrey Beene

Phoenix Art Museum and Arizona Costume Institute, a Museum affiliate group that supports the institution’s fashion design department, presents a virtual unveiling of the new Geoffrey Beene Archive at Phoenix Art Museum on Feb. 11, 2021, at 6 p.m.

The virtual fundraiser, entitled Geoffrey Beene: A Duet of Fashion and Movement, celebrates a recent gift of more than 350 Beene garments to Phoenix Art Museum from Patsy Tarr, longtime Beene patron, president of the 2wice Arts Foundation, and founder and publisher of 2wice magazines and books, which sets the stage for a future exhibition of Beene’s work at the Museum during the 2022-2023 exhibition season.

Among the evening’s highlights, the event will feature the premiere of an original short film that provides an in-depth look at 25 garments by the designer, renowned for his whimsical, comfortable and exacting designs; a dance performance by Deanna McBrearty, former dancer in the New York City Ballet and Beene model; stories by founding archive contributor Tarr; and comments by Tim Rodgers, PhD, the Museum’s Sybil Harrington director and CEO; Helen Jean, the Museum’s Jacquie Dorrance Curator of Fashion Design; and Kathie May, president of Arizona Costume Institute.

Geoffrey Beene: A Duet of Fashion and Movement will be streamed live and is open free to the public, with suggested donations in support of the fashion design program and collection at Phoenix Art Museum. The February event replaces the annual ACI Holiday Luncheon, which was postponed to Dec. 6, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and raises vital funds each year in support of the Museum’s fashion design program. 

“We are incredibly excited to present this event at a time when our community’s ability to gather together is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Tim Rodgers, PhD, the Museum’s Sybil Harrington Director and CEO. “This event celebrates the generosity of donors like Patsy Tarr, who give so generously in support of Phoenix Art Museum; the artistry of Geoffrey Beene; and the support of Arizona Costume Institute. Although we are sad not to celebrate the Holiday Luncheon together in 2020, I am grateful to our ACI volunteers, led by ACI president Kathie May and event chairs Perrine Adams, Ruby Farias, Laura Madden and Kelley Sucher for creating something exceptional and engaging that increases access to our fashion design collection during these challenging times.” 

In addition to celebrating the unveiling of the new Geoffrey Beene Archive at Phoenix Art Museum, the event marks an important milestone, as ACI has pledged $67,500 over five years to support the acquisition of additional work by the late designer to further grow the breadth and depth of the Beene Archive.

Considered one of the most whimsical designers in American history and renowned for his superb technical skills, Geoffrey Beene (1927–2004) created forward-thinking, practical and comfortable women’s fashions that showcased contrasting details and clean, geometric designs, while also highlighting his distinct humor, wit and artistic vision. Beene created versatile jumpsuits, intricately detailed boleros, elegant evening gowns, and more, earning wide acclaim for his designs that centered comfort and movement, both in how the wearer experienced his garments and how the onlooker viewed his technically precise patterns and forms that often created the illusion of motion.

Throughout his career, he received various awards and accolades, including induction into the Fashion Hall of Fame, eight Coty Fashion Critics Awards and a lifetime achievement award in 1998 from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

He also created the wedding dress for Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, daughter of former U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson and First Lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson. Beene’s work can be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, de Young Museum, Fashion Institute of Technology and Victoria and Albert Museum, among many other internationally renowned fashion collections. 

“Geoffrey Beene prioritized movement in every single design and the virtual event Geoffrey Beene: A Duet of Fashion and Movement explores and celebrates this boundless mobility inherent in his masterfully crafted work,” says Helen Jean, the Museum’s Jacquie Dorrance Curator of Fashion Design. “Through a video and messages from Patsy Tarr, Beene Archive donor, and former ballerina and longtime Beene model Deanna McBrearty, event attendees will enjoy the unprecedented opportunity to closely examine his impeccable garments.” 

Those who donate $1,000 or greater before Dec. 31, will enjoy exclusive, virtual, pre-event access to view and learn more about key garments from the new Geoffrey Beene Archive.

Geoffrey Beene: A Duet of Fashion and Movement

Feb. 11, 2021, 6 p.m.


To RSVP or provide a donation, click here.

For information on Arizona Costume Institute or to become an ACI member, visit

About Perrine Adams

Perrine Adams is the Managing Editor of The Red Book and Lifestyle Editor for Frontdoors Magazine.

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