“We are grateful for this generous gift from Patsy Tarr,” said Gilbert Vicario, the Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and the Selig Family Chief Curator of Phoenix Art Museum. “These one-of-a-kind garments, made specifically for Mrs. Tarr by Geoffrey Beene, significantly increase our holdings of Beene’s designs, now one of the most expansive collections of the late designer’s work in the world.”
Considered one of the most whimsical designers in American history and renowned for his superb technical skills, Geoffrey Beene (1927–2004) created modern, practical, and comfortable women’s fashions that showcased contrasting details and clean, geometric designs, while also highlighting the designer’s distinct humor, wit, and artistic vision. In Beene’s New York Times obituary, for example, writer Amy Fine Collins noted that although most designers often think of clothing two dimensionally, Beene instead “thought in the round, about the contortions of the body, the spiral of human movement,” which is why many of the seams on his garments spiral around the body.
Throughout his career, Beene created versatile jumpsuits, intricately detailed boleros, elegant evening gowns, and more that earned him wide acclaim. In 1967, he famously 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 was inducted into the Fashion Hall of Fame, received eight Coty Fashion Critics Awards, and received a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1998. His 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.