On February 27, 2011, Phoenix Art Museum
opens the Museums largest exhibition space and the closet of an acclaimed American tastemaker to reveal an extraordinary wardrobe of custom-made couture and personally designed sporting ensembles. In 2008, Ann Bonfoey Taylors wardrobe was gifted to the Museum by Vernon Taylor, Jr. and family. This prestigious acquisition was a rich archive of works by the most masterful fashion designers of the 1940s through 1960s including Charles James, Madame Grès, Balenciaga, Givenchy and Fortuny. On view through May 29, 2011, Fashion Independent: The Original Style of Ann Bonfoey Taylor, showcases Taylors wardrobe, style and vision and provides a comprehensive look at the artistic process of several legendary fashion designers.
The late Ann Bonfoey Taylor was a fashion innovator and an accomplished sportswoman recognized by national fashion publications and an international social circle for her spirited discipline and independence, commented Dennita Sewell, Curator of Fashion Design, Phoenix Art Museum. In todays climate of rapidly changing fashion trends and runway spectacles, Taylors achievement of a timeless, original style with classic elegance makes her a true visionary.
Featuring more than 60 full ensembles including 13 Balenciaga suits and evening gowns; a wide range of apparel from the 1940s and 50s by Charles James; 2 iconic dresses by Fortuny; a large assortment of Givenchy cocktail dresses, coats and accessories and rare, spectacular designs by Madame Grès, Fashion Independent is significant due to the depth and quality of the designs and artists. Large-scale photographs of Taylor taken by noted fashion photographer Toni Frissell and a short documentary film created by award-winning filmmaker David Boatman will further enhance this very personal and extremely engaging exhibition.
Raised in Quincy, Illinois, Taylors passion for sports and adventure began at an early age. As a young child her father took her flying in his open, two-seater biplane and later taught her to fly. When World War II broke out, she became a flight instructor for Army and Navy pilots. In the 1930s, she was a competitive tennis player and an alternate on the Womens Olympic Ski Team. Complimented for her stylish look on the ski slopes, she started her own line of innovative skiwear which was sold at Lord and Taylor.
In 1947, she married Vernon Taylor, Jr. and they established residence in Denver, Colorado, where they raised a family. With her love of the outdoors, Taylor developed a passion for horses and annually fox hunted in Virginia and England. The Taylors also built one of the first ski chalets in Vail, Colorado, and maintained a cattle ranch in Montana where Taylor was known as a gracious and elegant hostess to her worldwide circle of friends.