Phoenix Art Museum's Casey Hagarty Emulates Effortless French Fashion on a Budget

Andie Flores
Casey Hagarty sits outside of the Phoenix Art Museum.

Accessories and high heels are impractical choices for a day in the life of Casey Hagarty.

The 27-year-old Phoenix Art Museum curatorial assistant usually sports a monochromatic uniform of black skinny jeans, boots, nice tee shirts and clean blazers. Which is great, the Phoenix native says, since she needs to be prepared for everything from seeing someone important to lifting a mannequin across a museum into a gallery.

See also: Phoenix Fashion Week's Lauren Pfingstag Hunts for Designer Duds at Last Chance

Hagarty has had various roles in fashion around town. After interning and volunteering at the museum, she's most excited about the cultural growth she's now a part of.

"I really appreciate academia and fashion and the combination of those two things," Hagarty says. "I've always looked at fashion in an intellectual way, and this is the perfect place to do it."

Her true draw to the Phoenix Art Museum was its fashion curator and her mentor, Dennita Sewell. Hagarty says that Sewell is doing an excellent job of representing the community and keeping the museum's collection at the caliber of other museums around the world.

"Phoenix is a hard place to sustain yourself in fashion, but she's very committed to educating the community on real high-end, significant fashion."

While Hagarty's world is built around fashion, she says she's never thought of herself as a "fashion girl." "I love the industry and I love designers, but I don't think I'm particularly amazingly dressed all the time. I just like what I like."

When asked how she would describe her style, Hagarty references a time she once interviewed Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen while promoting their line The Row at Barney's.

"They both said that their style was ever-changing, and that's how I feel," she says. "There was a time when all I wore was vintage and color and piled on accessories, but now I'm really into the effortless look of French women. My style is eclectic, ever-changing, and mood driven."

Like any fashion-thinking individual, Hagarty's eyes are to the big-city possibilities of the future. For now, she is excited to grow within the museum.

"I want people to say, 'Wow, I can't believe they have that here.' It's amazing how much effort we still have to make in educating the community that we do have such a large fashion collection. We have shows twice a year. We have tons of programs! I hope people come in on their own accord on a Wednesday night or a First Friday, and then find a program they like and come back."

One such event is happening on Wednesday, March 26. The "Hollywood Costume" exhibition will display over 100 costumes from the last 100 years of film, including Marilyn Monroe's 7 Year Itch dress, as well as costumes from Harry Potter, Superman, and Titanic. In conjunction with that, the museum is opening "Hollywood Red Carpet," featuring a selection of dresses that best actresses and best supporting actresses have worn to the Oscars. For some interactive fun, there's also a Hollywood Costume Party on Saturday, April 12.

"This exhibit originated at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London," Hagarty says, "So these events are definitely a rare and awesome opportunity for our community."

What's great about Phoenix, Hagarty says, is the accessibility. "People are accessible, opportunity is accessible, and if you want to get involved in something, you can do it."

Hagarty is making the very most of her Phoenix experience. "When you do the job you love to do, your friends are here, it's sunshine and 80 degrees outside for most of the year," she says, "What more can you ask for?"

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