Kent State University Museum unveils “Geoffrey Beene: American Ingenuity” exhibit


Courtesy of Geoffrey Beene

Kelsey Drumm

The Kent State University Museum opened its “Geoffrey Beene: American Ingenuity” exhibition to showcase clothing articles created by the designer throughout his 40-year career on Thursday, Jan. 29.

American designer Geoffrey Beene (1927-2004) swayed the fashion industry with his original ideas during the fourth quarter of the 20th century, and he opened his business in 1963 as soon as he could afford it, museum curator Jean Druesedow said.

“Everybody who ever worked with him called him Mr. Beene because they had such a high level of respect for him,” said Noël Palomo-Lovinski, an associate professor of fashion design and merchandising. “He was an incredible innovator and did things in his own way, which oddly enough in fashion is not always common. He really pushed the boundaries of clothing for women during his career.”

Palomo-Lovinski said Beene studied as a medical student and found interest in the anatomy of human body, which brought a combination of elegance and comfort in his designs.

“Because of his precision, his desire to experiment with curved seams and things that are not necessarily the cheapest thing to do, most often Seventh Avenue (in New York City) wants things quick and cheap, and the American consumer buys quick and cheap,” Druesedow said. “And Mr. Beene didn’t really want to go that way, so by designing the kind of garments he did, he made them more expensive than a lot of other things, but much more interesting.”

Although only wealthy citizens could often afford Beene’s clothing, the style of his work stimulated American fashion to change, said Russell Nardozza, the senior vice president and chief operating officer of Geoffrey Beene’s company.

“He’s inspired many collections from a number of different designers who got to understand what Geoffrey Beene was conceptualizing,” Nardozza said. “He did not believe in bisecting the body with seams on the side, left and right. He used those seams and moved those seams, so they caressed the body, and they provided freer movement on the wearer.”

Beene’s exhibit includes women’s coats, jumpsuits, work attire, dresses and more. The museum’s entire collection of his work adds up to more than 200 fashion masterpieces. Druesedow accredits the extent of the Geoffrey Beene clothing collection to donors across the country.

Past focus exhibits at the Kent State University Museum includes careers of designers Oscar de la Renta, Charles Kleibacker, George Stavropoulos and James Galanos.

The museum wanted to open an exhibition that explored Beene’s work for a long time, Druesedow said.

Visitors can view the Geoffrey Beene exhibit in the Kent State University Museum’s Broadbent Gallery Wednesday through Sunday during regular hours. “Geoffrey Beene: American Ingenuity” will close Aug. 30, 2015.

Contact Kelsey Drumm at [email protected].