"The Sea" at the Phoenix Art Museum

On March 2nd I went to the sea. I walked along the boardwalk, passing sailors and ladies in fine dresses. I saw swimmers of all ages, in a variety of swimming costumes. I even saw mermaids and other beautiful creatures of the deep. And I did all of this without leaving the landlocked confines of the Phoenix Valley.

No, I was not hallucinating. I was attending the opening reception of the new exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. On view now in the Ellman Fashion Design Gallery until July 15th.

For those of us who will not be able to make it to the beach this summer, The Sea is a refreshing and beautiful escape from heat and brownness of the desert during our hot summer months. The exhibition, "explores the far-reaching influence of the romance, colors and forms of the sea on fashion design. Drawn from the Museum's extensive permanent collection and private collections, The Sea features work by Prada, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Christian Lacroix for Patou, Zandra Rhodes and Pauline Trigere among others."

I've been attending the exhibitions in the fashion gallery at the Museum since 1999, and every time I am amazed by the work of curator Dennita Sewell and her team. The Sea is no exception. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I will stop talking and let you see for yourself. Just know that the pictures don't do this exhibit justice and you really must make a trip to the Museum and see for yourself.

(For more info on visiting the Phoenix Art Museum, click here.)

Seaside dresses from the 1860s.

At left, lounge pajamas from the 1930s, right, Rita Jo dress from the 1930s.

Selection of swimsuits showing how styles have changed over the years.

Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. Left, swimsuit and dress from early 2000s. Right, jacket, swimsuit and shoes from the Cruise 2011-12 collection, gift of Saks Fifth Avenue.

So, according to the story, a woman wanted to be able to wear her Chanel jacket poolside but obviously tweed is not the best material for lounging by the pool. She requested it be made out of terry cloth and the idea has taken off. Is there anywhere you can't wear Chanel to now?

It was also the Museum's First Friday event so the gallery was packed. It was so nice to see so many people experience the exhibition.

Clair McCardell

Left and behind, Chado Ralph Rucci, Spring 2002 Couture. Right and front, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Spring 2012, gift of Neiman Marcus.

Synthetic brocade and monofilimant lace with paillette and bead embroidery. Simply stunning, front and back.

Great Naval uniforms.

Dress from the early 1860s, "water mark" moire silk.


Christian Lacroix for Patou "Chaldee" Dress and Overskirt, Spring 1986.

The amazing accessories case.


  1. Beautiful!!!!! It looks awesome!

  2. I kept thinking about you when looking at all the Chanel. :)


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