Charles James: A Couturier’s Couturier Dresses Up The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Charles James: A Couturier’s Couturier Dresses Up The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Charles James: Beyond Fashion at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (May 8-Aug. 10, 2014) is arguably the most anticipated exhibition of the spring season and an opportunity to reexamine the career of America’s greatest—some say only—couturier. Born in England to a British father and American mother, James (1906-1978) enjoyed his greatest success in the United States, where he dressed high society to the nines, specializing in evening gowns of astonishing intricacy, detail and, yes, sex appeal. His peers revered him, too: Balenciaga and Dior admired him, while Schiaparelli and Chanel wore him. A perfectionist, who often didn’t meet a commission’s deadline, James was as much an artist as he was a dressmaker: a sculptor in fabric, an architect of construction. What was it like to wear one of Charles James’ showstoppers? “Magic,” said longtime client Austine Hearst. “Everyone turns when I sweep into the room, the gentlemen in admiration, the ladies in envy.”

>> Charles James: Beyond Fashion, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave., 212.535.7710, May 8-Aug. 10, 2014