Charles James, whose work is known to fashionistas in the know, but is relatively obscure to the general public, will have his work featured in the Summer 2014 Costume Institute Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
While the audience at large may not recognize his name, they are probably familiar with his extremely structured ball gowns which have been featured in photographer Cecil Beaton’s work for Vogue. The two originally met at the Harrow School in London and while James was expelled, they formed a lasting friendship.
James left academia behind in England, and moved to Chicago to begin a career as a milliner and begin developing his soon-to-be signature gowns.
His skill allowed him to create dramatic 18-pound dresses that allowed any woman wearing them to walk with the grace of a princess. James’ remarkable designs impressed designers as important as Cristobal Balenciaga and Christian Dior, who have described his gowns as “poetry.”
Harold Koda, curator in charge of the Costume Institute, intends for the exhibit guide visitors through Charles James’ life and work, from his devotion to each handcrafted garment, to his close friendship with Beaton and the designs made for various socialites of the 1940s and 50s.
For more on “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” exhibition, visit Metropolitan Museum of Art.
—Samantha V. Westmore