Phoenix Art Museum will present “India: Fashion’s Muse” Feb. 29- June 21, 2020. The exhibition examines the ways in which Indian dress, aesthetic, and artwork have inspired Western fashion designs from streetwear to couture. Spanning the 19th to the 21st centuries, the exhibition showcases nearly 40 garments and more than 20 accessories drawn from the Phoenix Art Museum collection and on loan from private collectors and museums. Featured designs include the paisley shawl, the sari, and the Nehru jacket, with traditional Indian garments exhibited alongside modern works by Indian fashion designer Anamika Khanna and Western designers such as McQueen, Givenchy, and Versace. Curated by Helen Jean, the museum’s interim curator of fashion design, the exhibition also will present complementary artworks from the museum’s Asian art collection.
Jean selected garments that illustrate how fashion designers have referenced imagery, color palettes, and silhouettes from India for their Western clientele. Accessory cases will display a collection of gold jewelry from local collectors and Judith Leiber purses, on loan from the private collection of Kelly Ellman, who in 2006 endowed the Kelly Ellman Fashion Design Gallery in which the exhibition will be presented.
Visitors also will be able to view the U.S. premiere of “I Thought I Was Dreaming,” a four-minute film by award-winning artist Sarah Singh featuring Kirat Young, widely known as India’s first supermodel, and based on the 1982 collection by Yves Saint Laurent that was inspired by India. Singh showcases her work in museums, galleries, think tanks, and universities around the world and, in 2018, launched a new international arts salon in India for concept-driven experiences. The film, which presents a kaleidoscopic world of reflected images as an interpretation of culture, will be shown as a continuous screening within the exhibition.
“India has inspired Western fashion designers for hundreds of years, and this exhibition tells a small but integral part of that very complex story,” says Jean. “With today’s growing awareness about the impact of cultural appropriation by the West, there is greater opportunity to examine how we can better respect those cultural elements in an increasingly globalized world. My hope is that after viewers experience the exhibition, they will be encouraged to look in their own closets, wonder about the origins of their clothes, and research the history of designs and silhouettes they are drawn to in an effort to become more informed about their choices.”
Entrance to the exhibition is included in general admission. For museum admission prices and hours, see bit.ly/VisitPhxArt.