“Charles James: Beyond Fashion”
This year Charles James’ work is the subject of the opening exhibition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s At Anna Wintour Costume Center called Charles James: Beyond Fashion. At a preview of the exhibit, Elettra Weideman modeled a replica of the Clover Leaf ballgown James originally created It for Austin Hearst was the dress James ranked as the best of his creations. At the preview event, the Costume Institute “detailed the designer’s significance today and showed a 1969 video of a James-led retrospective fashion show.”
Charles James (18 July 1906 in Sandhurst, Berkshire- September 23, 1978 in New York City) was a fashion designer known as America’s first couturier. He is considered a master of cutting and is known for his highly structured aesthetic.
From New York James moved to London, setting up shop in Mayfair He also spent time in Paris in the early 1930s, studying, but was primarily a self-taught designer.
According to Harold Koda, The Costume Institute curator in charge, James “transformed fashion design” and his “many advancements included the spiral cut and the taxi dress (created in 1929 and so easy to wear it could be slipped on in the backseat of a taxi) .James also “championed strapless in the Thirties; invented the figure-eight skirt, the puffer jacket and the Pavlovian waistband that expands after a meal, and was an early proponent of licensing.” Christian Dior is “said to have credited James with inspiring The New Look.”
His work will be featured at this year’s May 5, 2014 Met Gala.