Simplicity and elegance was the trademark of American fashion design and couturier James Galanos. The only son of Greek immigrants John grew up without a fashion influence. However, his dreams of Paris and New York drove him to become one of the most acclaimed designers of our time.

His sketching abilities gave him a gateway to express himself. Drawing throughout his primary years and ultimately leveraging this skill to land a gig working as a part-time sketch artist in the Columbia Pictures costume department, where he worked for the legendary Jean Louis. James attended the Traohagen School of Fashion, but did not graduate. James believed he could gain more practical knowledge through experience in the garment industry rather than through traditional educational channels.

And his knowledge far eclipsed the practical knowledge he was seeking as he became the designer for the understated, chic of the world. Former first lady Nancy Reagan remarked of a Galanos dress that “you can wear one inside out, they are so beautifully made.” Even upon his retirement in 1998, James remarked “The highlight of my career is simply existing for 46 years,” and that “The most important thing I have done is to maintain what I started out to do.”

Like many self-made men James Galanos respected hard work and craftsmanship. Even after his passing he is still feeding the fashion industry. Through the James G. Galanos Foundation, has donated 700 pieces from Mr. Galanos’ atelier archive to Drexel University, to bring his work back to the state where he was born. It is housed at the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection of the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. To further his legacy the university also plans to publish a book on Mr. Galanos and build a library in his honor. In addition, the foundation will establish scholarship funds for fashion students, all of which will continue to foster talent for generations to come.

This celebrated artist has joined the Phoenix community for a limited time at the Phoenix Museum of Art in A Tribute to James Galanos exhibit. Open until January 7th, 2018 the show pays respect to the late American designer. The exhibit has been curated to focus on five decades of his most coveted designs. Selected from the permanent collection and from private lenders, along with never before seen photographs from his personal archives this display is something no fashion bug should miss.

Thanks to the leadership of Dennita Sewell, the Jacquie Dorrance Curator of Fashion Designer, of the Arizona Costume Institute our valley is gaining valuable recognition as a burgeoning area for fashion. Dennita’s keen eye for curating the right exhibits for Phoenicians is gaining more attention as the Arizona Costume Institute is seeing a lift in membership. The highlights of this show will include gowns made for Sybil Harrington, Kitty Carlyle Hart, Nancy Reagan, Ann Bonefory Taylor and Marie Vanderbilt Whitney as well as contemporary collectors including Tatiana Sorokko, Gelila Puck, and Ralph Rucci.

Exhibition Details | Ellman Fashion Design Gallery | Open until January 7, 2018

About the Exhibition

A Tribute to James Galanos will be on view from August 19, 2017 through January 7, 2018 in the Ellman Gallery. Admission is free for Museum Members; past and present members of the military; Maricopa Community College students, staff, and faculty (with ID); and youth aged 5 and under. Entrance to the exhibition is included in general admission for the general public. During voluntary-donation, free-access times, the exhibition is offered free to the general public. Free-access times include Wednesdays from 3 – 9 pm, the first Fridays of every month from 6 – 10 pm, and the second weekend of each month (Saturday from 10am – 5pm and Sunday from Noon – 5pm). For a full breakdown of general admission prices and hours, visit

About the Fashion Design Collection

Founded in 1966, the fashion design collection of Phoenix Art Museum is recognized for its quality and comprehensiveness. It is composed of more than 7,000 objects of American and European men’s, women’s, and children’s dress and accessories, dating from the 18th century to the present day.

About Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art Museum has provided access to visual arts and educational programs in Arizona for more than 50 years and is the largest art museum in the Southwestern United States. Critically acclaimed national and international exhibitions are shown alongside the Museum’s permanent collection of more than 18,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. The Museum also presents festivals, a comprehensive film program, live performances and educational programs designed to enlighten, entertain and stimulate visitors of all ages. Visitors also enjoy vibrant photography exhibitions through the Museum’s landmark partnership with the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. To learn more about Phoenix Art Museum, visit, or call the 24-hour recorded information line at (602) 257-1222.

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