How does the intangible, like a fleeting but unforgotten memory, become tangible?

Photography: © Aia Atoui 2010

So Passé, 2010

An exhibition of 20th century fashion photography and selection of vintage couture gowns from the personal collection of Parveen Shaath, curated within the aesthetics of her personal narrative and of which had been forgotten

Fashion is a medium of cultural heritage; it weaves stories of a society, an age, and- in the context of this collaborative project- a pioneering woman. While vacationing in London in the late 1950s Parveen Shaath, chanced a group of fashion designers over tea at the Dorchester and took her first steps towards becoming one of the pioneers of the ready-to-wear market in her then home city of Riyadh. Long before fashion-week became the cornerstone of the industry, she made the bi-annual journey to Europe to select the pieces she sold at women-only gatherings and clubs, before opening her own boutique ‘Azizati’ in the early 1960s.

With each passing season, she began amassing a collection of gowns that were left unsold. In preserving the collection of never-before-worn evening wear, she recognized the legacy of each couture construction and the place it held within an evolving social and cultural landscape. By curating the collection in juxtaposition to selections of 20th century fashion photography, her story traversed an evolution of the aesthetics of fashion over a period of 40 years. With all of its embodied messages and meanings, the enduring legacy of Parveens’ contribution to fashion in the Kingdom lives on in her collection, and our memory of her.