When Geoffrey Beene died in 2004, longtime client Patsy Tarr honored him by publishing a book. Done in collaboration with Abbott Miller, art director of Tarr’s dance magazine 2wice, “Geoffrey Beene: A Design Tribute” featured more than 40 of her own Beene garments. “In our grief, we made the book and wrote lengthy, schmaltzy essays,” says Tarr. Now, four years after the book’s release, Tarr has opened her closets again, this time for an exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum.
What makes “Geoffrey Beene: Trapeze,” which opened this weekend and runs through March 7, different from his other shows is Tarr herself. “We’re not just looking at Beene and his work,” says Dennita Sewell, the museum’s curator of fashion design, “but looking at it through the eyes of a dedicated wearer.” So while the exhibit doesn’t catalogue every Beene career hit — no football jersey-inspired gowns here — it does offer a nice array of, for example, his breakthrough boleros and jumpsuits, both Tarr favorites. “I didn’t buy the clothes to have a collection,” says Tarr. “I bought clothes to wear.”
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