New Jacquie Dorrance Curator of Fashion Design

Phoenix Art Museum announces the appointment of Helen Jean as its next Jacquie Dorrance curator of fashion design, following Jean’s service as interim curator of fashion design since September 2019.

Jean first joined the Museum in 2007 as a curatorial assistant for Dennita Sewell, curator emerita, who led the fashion design program at the Museum for nearly 20 years. Jean, who brings more than a decade of experience as a fashion scholar and educator and recently curated the Museum’s latest fashion design exhibition, India: Fashion’s Muse. 

“On behalf of Phoenix Art Museum and the Board of Trustees, we are thrilled to appoint Helen Jean to this permanent role overseeing the Museum’s extensive fashion design collection and exhibitions,” says Mark Koenig, interim Sybil Harrington director and chief financial officer of Phoenix Art Museum. “Not only does Helen bring a depth of experience as a scholar and educator, she also has significant insight into and experience working with the Museum’s renowned collection. We are confident she will continue to expand the tradition of innovative scholarship and dynamic exhibitions that our community has come to expect from the Museum’s fashion design program.” 

Alexander McQueen, Dress, Fall/Winter 2008-2009.

As the Museum’s curatorial assistant for fashion design from 2007–12, Jean assisted in the management of the Museum’s fashion design collection, which now includes more than 8,000 objects. She also researched new acquisitions and assisted with the development and installation of dozens of fashion design exhibitions. As an educator, she has presented lectures, gallery talks, object discussions and demonstrations on various topics, including the history of French and Italian fashion, Slavic embroidery, mathematics in fashion design, the depiction of Western clothing in 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints and the history of the ostrich-feather industry in Arizona and its impact on modern fashion.

Previously, Jean served as a fashion design instructor with the Art Institute of Phoenix, and most recently, she was a college representative at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. She earned a BFA in Costume Design at Stephens College and an MFA in Fashion Design at the University of Nebraska. 

”I offer my sincere congratulations to Helen Jean,” says Jacquie Dorrance, who in 2016 endowed the curatorial position to which Jean has been appointed. “As a longtime believer in fashion design as a compelling art form throughout history and today, as demonstrated in the hugely exciting India: Fashion’s Muse exhibition, I am grateful that the stewardship of this important collection will be entrusted to Helen’s talent and expertise. This is an important moment for both the fashion collection and for the Arizona Costume Institute, which are jewels within the Museum and our community.” 

“It is an incredible honor to accept this new role, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with and steward this truly exceptional collection as it continues to grow and evolve,” says Jean. “I am also grateful for the opportunity I had to learn from Dennita Sewell, without whom the collection and its national acclaim would not have been possible. I look forward to continuing the work that Dennita and, before her, Jean Hildreth began at Phoenix Art Museum.” 

India: Fashion’s Muse is on view through June 21, 2020. While Phoenix Art Museum is temporarily closed through April 6, join docent Lisa Corridan for a discussion of Monsieur Givenchy, one of his sari-esque couture dresses, his lasting legacy, his lifelong friend and muse Audrey Hepburn. Click here to see the video.

Jean will next curate a new exhibition scheduled to open in summer 2020, followed by a major fashion exhibition featuring mod fashion from the 1960s and 1970s. 

About Perrine Adams

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