Charles James : Beyond Fashion at MET

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

Eight models wearing Charles James gowns, in French & Company’s eighteenth century French paneled room, 1948
Photo:
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Photograph by Cecil Beaton; Beaton / Vogue / Condé Nast Archive. Copyright © Condé Nast

Tonight, May 5, one of the most attended fashion event of the year will be celebrated at the Costume Institute ball at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art . From 8 May, the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum in New York is home to the most anticipated show  of the year, “Charles James: Beyond Fashion”.  The occasion will also inaugurates the Anna Wintour Costume Center. With a Gala Benefit. Filled with celebrity.

The exhibition “Charles James – Beyond Fashion” is a tribute to the designer who for the first redefined the ‘couture silhouette’ in the 40s mixing velvet with satin, silk and crepe. At the time, they called him “the architect of fashion” for the construction of his clothes, almost sculptures. Cristobal Balenciaga called him a master of cutting and sewing, for Christian Dior he was “the poet.”  On display there are 100 of his best-known models along with sketches,drawings, and photographs.

Famous in the 50’s, James dressed heiress and socialite. Though English by birth, he was the first true couturier made ​​in the USA (1906-1978). A very curious fact about him is that he hadn’t any formal training.He started his great fashion adventure by designing scarves and hat. And it was London where he opened his first salon starting to create his famous gowns. 

Charles James created especially ball gowns. They were called “Leaf Clover”, “Butterfly”, “Tree”, “Swan” and “Diamond”. The designer dressed heiress and socialite known in New York including Mona Bismarck (in 1933 was named best dressed woman in the world) and Millicent Rogers, the Standard Oil heir. But even his iconic “colleagues” , unexpected as Elsa Schiaparelli (she was paying for each dress) and Coco Chanel (to whom he always gave everything as a present.). James died in 1978 in New York at the age of 70.

For the big event that will be held tonight, men are expected to wear ‘White Tie and Decorations’ which according to WWD is “a black tailcoat, matching trousers with a single stripe of satin or braid in the U.S.; a white piqué wing-collared shirt with stiff front; a white vest; white-coloured (e.g., mother-of-pearl) studs and cuff links; a white bow tie; white or grey gloves; black patent shoes, and black dress socks. A top hat is optional.” And the ladies will be seen in full-on ball gowns in honour of the couturier Charles James.

To familiarize yourself with the work of the famous couturier here are some of his most exquisite creations.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

Babe Paley, 1950
Photo:
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Photograph by John Rawlings; Rawlings / Vogue / Condé Nast Archive. Copyright © Condé Nast

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

Austine Hearst Wearing The Leaf Gown, C. 1953
Photo:
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Photographer Unknown; © Bettmann/CORBIS/© Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

Charles James’ ex-wife , Nancy James Wearing The Swan Gown, 1955
Photo:
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Photograph by Cecil Beaton; The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

Butterfly Gown, 1954
Photo:
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Photograph by Cecil Beaton; Beaton / Vogue / Condé Nast Archive. Copyright © Condé Nast

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

Charles James With Model, 1948
Photo:
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Photograph by Cecil Beaton; Beaton / Vogue / Condé Nast Archive. Copyright © Condé Nast/The Condé Nast Publications

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

Models wearing Charles James gowns, New York, 1950
Picture: Eliot Elisofon/Time and Life Pictures/Getty

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

A Charles James chiffon ‘Swan’ dress, 1954
Picture: Getty

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

A model wearing a Charles James evening dress, 1956
Picture: Getty

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

Marisa Tomei wearing a Charles James gown at the Academy Awards, 2011
Picture: Rex

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