Charles James: “Beneath the Dress” at The National Arts Club

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The National Arts Club Presents 'Charles James: Beneath The Dress

New York publicist R. Couri Hay and Sonja Morgan. Photo: Courtesy of R. Couri Hay Creative Public Relations

It was a scene of glam and couture on Monday night at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park South. Cornelia Guest, Amanda Hearst, Anne Hearst McInerney, Patricia Hearst Shaw, Gillian Hearst Simonds and Kimberly Rockefeller welcomed 400 guests to “Charles James: Beneath the Dress,” an exciting exhibition of rare works on paper by Charles James, the celebrated American couturier who was recently the subject of a blockbuster retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.  This exhibition features 100 of James’ fashion and erotic drawings from the private collection of R. Couri Hay, writer and friend of the late designer. This will be the first time that Hay’s extensive holdings of James’ work will be on view to the public.

The exhibit also included a selection of vintage photographs by Anton Perich documenting James’ life in The Chelsea Hotel and a screening of a new Charles James documentary directed by Angela Bernhard Thomas. Among those floating around the showcase shipping champagne were Harvey Weinstein, Georgina Chapman, Jay McInerney, Edward Chapman, Nicole Miller, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Elizabeth Strong-Cuevas Diandra Douglas, Audrey Gruss, William Ivey Long, Janna Bullock, Terrie Sultan, Jean Shafiroff, Cece Cord who wore Charles James, Sharon Bush Campion Platt, Morgan O’Connor, Countess LuAnn de Lesseps, Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan.

The women wore Haute Couture and Bijou and the men dressed in blue jeans and dinner jackets, as James wore when he accepted the Neiman Marcus Award in 1953, which forced a horrified Mr. Marcus to declare blue jeans fashionable. Dianne B. Bernhard, Director, Office of Fine Arts at The National Arts Club, personally wlecomed Charles and Janis Cecil, Kipton Cronkite, Nicole DiCocco, Cheri Kauffman, Christine Schott-Ledes and George Ledes, Herb Karlitz, Shawn Kolodny, Dr. Kenneth Mark, David Noto, Dale Noelle, Pamela O’Connor, Jan Reeder, Leesa Rowland, Cassandra Seidenfield, Valerie Steel, Dr. Nicholas Toscano, and Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin. Society bandleader, Alex Donner’s orchestra played music from the 1920’s through to the 1950’s – James’ peak design period. The World Champion male tango team of Antón Gazenbeek and Jody P. Person performed a sensual tango, before the screening of Thomas’ documentary.

After the film, 104 guests were treated to a private dinner to celebrate the exhibit’s opening. Before the first course was served, the evening’s host, R. Couri Hay announced he had given 5,000 meals to Lauren Bush Lauren’s FEED Supper initiative, whose goal is to provide one million meals for the needy by World Hunger Day on October 16th. Cornelia Guest Events styled the dining table, with Bentley Meeker Lighting Staging, Inc. providing lighting for the dinner and table. Delphine Blanchot of Clarence Dillon Wines selected Clarendelle Blanc 2012, Grand Vin De Bordeaux and Clarendelle Rouge 2006, Grand Vin De Bordeaux, which were served throughout the dinner along with David Noto’s Altaneve Prosecco. Hay said, “James told me, ‘It’s always been about the dress not me’,” adding, “Charles James was a rebel and an artist who never doubted himself or his work.”

-Isaiah Negron

4_Sharon Bush_Tom Knapp_Anne Hearst_credit Rose Billings

Sharon Bush, Tom Knapp and Anne Hearst. Photo: Courtesy of R. Couri Hay Creative Public Relations

The National Arts Club Presents 'Charles James: Beneath The Dress

New York socialite Cornelia Guest. Photo: Courtesy of R. Couri Hay Creative Public Relations

Anne and Jay McInerney host Randy Harris's 21st Birthday

Skin health expert Kimberly Rockefeller and writer and food critic Jay McInerney. Photo: Courtesy of R. Couri Hay Creative Public Relations

The National Arts Club Presents 'Charles James: Beneath The Dress

New Yorker Gillian Hearst Simonds. Photo: Courtesy of R. Couri Hay Creative Public Relations