College of Visual and Performing Arts renames gallery to honor Genet family legacy at SU

October 23, 2012

The College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) has announced that its Design Gallery at The Warehouse will be renamed the Sue & Leon Genet Gallery in honor of the Genet family legacy at Syracuse University.

Leon M. Genet ’53, who died in 2005, was a longtime SU supporter and benefactor who helped many students attain their goal of attending the University. He was the driving force behind the Genet Lecture Series, an integral part of SU’s programs in fashion design and retail management, and supported the Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection and Research Center, named in memory of his wife, a textile artist and sculptor. His three daughters, Pamela Genet Barsh ’84, Jill Genet Waller ’87 and Wendy Genet Kaplan ’92, also hold degrees from SU.

A celebration of the Genet family legacy and gallery dedication will be held on Saturday, Nov. 3, at The Warehouse, 350 W. Fayette St., Syracuse. Free and open to the public, the celebration will begin at 3 p.m. with tours of the Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection on the seventh floor of The Warehouse. At 4 p.m., Jeffrey Mayer, associate professor of fashion design in VPA and curator of the collection, will give a talk on the gallery’s current exhibition, “Emilio Pucci: Master of Print,” in The Warehouse Auditorium, located on the first floor.

The Sue & Leon Genet Gallery dedication will be held at 4:30 p.m., followed by a reception from 5-7 p.m. The gallery is also located on the first floor of The Warehouse. Patrons should enter the building via the ground-floor door adjacent to the café on W. Fayette St. or the first-floor door on West Washington Street.

“Leon Genet’s dedication and generosity made an invaluable, lasting impact on the University’s ability to prepare students for careers in the fashion and retailing industries,” says VPA Dean Ann Clarke. “The Sue & Leon Genet Gallery not only honors his family’s commitment to SU, but, true to his vision, provides a venue for education, exploration and enjoyment.”

Through Leon Genet’s efforts, numerous leaders in the fashion design, retailing and manufacturing industries visited the SU campus to speak to students, faculty and the public as part of the Genet Lecture Series, which began in 1982. Mary McFadden, Tommy Hilfiger, Kate and Andy Spade, Oscar de la Renta and J. Crew CEO Millard Drexler are among the speakers who shared their personal experiences and visions for the future in Genet Auditorium, named in recognition of a gift from Genet. His industry connections also led to the establishment of student internships and scholarship funds.

In the late 1980s, Genet wanted to create a more permanent living memorial to his late wife Sue Ann, and SU’s existing American Costume Collection was renamed the Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection. Leon Genet’s vision was that the collection would become an accessible learning tool, available for exhibitions on campus and across the country. The collection, which is comprised of more than 1,500 women’s garments and accessories from 1820 to the present, was recently reopened to the public after being stored while a new, climate-controlled environment was created for it in The Warehouse, home of VPA’s Department of Design and the fashion design program.

In addition, fashions from the collection are currently being exhibited in “Styling an American Family: The 1910s at Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms” at the Stickley Museum in New Jersey through Jan. 6. The show will travel to the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse beginning in June 2013.

A graduate of The College of Arts and Sciences, Leon Genet was a charter member of the former College for Human Development’s board of visitors, served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and co-chaired the leadership gifts committee for the Campaign for Syracuse. He was honored by the University with numerous awards, including the Chancellor’s Medal for Outstanding Achievement and the Outstanding Alumni Award.

For more information on the exhibition or the Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection, or to make a donation to the collection, contact Mayer at 315-443-4644.