In 2011 Phoenix Art Museum opened the Gold Fever exhibition. The show illustrated the significance of gold in fashion featuring pieces from the 18th century to modern day.
Gold evokes a powerful response in humanity that has led to its use in personal adornment since ancient times. More than the name of a color, gold is universally linked with myth, magic and power. In a place between the real and the imaginary, gold fashion allows these myths to be conceived and lived out by the wearer. The people who wore these clothes were drawn by the same mesmerizing spell that drove explorers to their death and populated entire geographic regions in the search for gold. These clothes graft the preciousness of this untarnishing metal onto the human body. This idea, steeped in history and central to the human psyche, assures that gold is and will continue to be synonymous with the highest of fashionable aspirations.
Though much of what you see in the exhibition is not made of real gold, it still displays the continual human desire to recreate this precious and powerful metal. Select pieces such as the court gown and bullfighter’s costume (see below) were embroidered using a delicate gold plated-thread. The exhibition included views of these fibers under microscope so viewers could see the precious metal in context.