Southern Agenda

Design in Mind

Just about anyone who’s anyone knows about the fashion hubs of Milan, New York, Miami, and…Bentonville? Yes, the midsize Arkansas city has stitched itself into the style scene with a first-of-its-kind exhibition on the power of American design through the decades. “There are tremendously important opportunities to tell new stories about American fashion,” says Austen Barron Bailly, the chief curator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, “and we wanted to seize that opportunity.” Crystal Bridges’ new show Fashioning America: Grit to Glamour (through January 30) displays ready-to-wear and couture clothing and accessories that have shaped American—and worldwide—style. A “rhinestone cowboy” Nudie suit, silk Hollywood gowns, and beaded high-heeled sneakers by the Native American artist Teri Greeves share space with garments by Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren, and designers who are belatedly getting their due, such as Ann Lowe, the Black designer from Alabama who created Jacqueline Kennedy’s iconic wedding dress in 1953.