Charles James: Beyond Fashion will be the inaugural exhibition of the newly renovated Costume Institute where it will highlight the career of legendary 20th Century Anglo-American couturier Charles James (1906-1978).
The Charles James exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art explores the couturier's design process, focusing on the use of sculptural, scientific, and mathematical approaches to construct revolutionary ball gowns and innovative tailoring methods that continues to be used by designers today. The exhibit will feature approximately 75 of James' most notable designs presented in two locations - the new Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery in Anna Wintour Costume Center as well as a specially installed exhibition gallery on the Museum's first floor.
The first-floor exhibition galleries will spotlight the glamor and resplendent architecture of James' ball gowns from the 1940s to 1950s. While the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch gallery will provide an insight to life and inner-workings of James via archival pieces including sketches, notes, pattern pieces, swatches, ephemera, and partially completed works from his last studio in New York City's Chelsea Hotel. The evolution and metamorphosis by James of specific designs over decades will also be shown. Video animations in both exhibition locations will illustrate how he created anatomically considered dresses that sculpted and reconfigured the female form
After designing in his native London, and then Paris, James arrived in New York City in 1940. Despite having no formal training, he is now regarded as one of the greatest designers in America to have worked in the tradition of the Haute Couture. His fascination with complex cut and seaming led to the creation of key design elements that he updated throughout his career: wrap-over trousers, figure-eight skirts, body-hugging sheaths, ribbon capes and dresses, spiral-cut garments, and poufs. These, along with his iconic ball gowns from the late 1940s and early 1950s—the "Four-Leaf Clover," "Butterfly," "Tree," "Swan," and "Diamond"—will be showcased in the exhibition.
The exhibit runs from May 8 to August 10. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire more about the Charles James exhibit.