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Thread: Charles James: Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute's 2014 Exhibit

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    Elite Member dougie's Avatar
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    Default Charles James: Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute's 2014 Exhibit

    How Charles James became America's first-ever couturier | Mail Online

    How Charles James became America's first-ever couturier: New book sheds light on the designer who pioneered zippers and inspired Christian Dior's New Look
    By Misty White Sidell
    Published: 12:07 EST, 14 April 2014 | Updated: 10:42 EST, 15 April 2014

    In anticipation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibit dedicated to legendary fashion designer Charles James, a sneak peak of the show’s corresponding book has been released.

    Charles James: Beyond Fashion, includes photos of James’s awe-inspiring ball gowns that helped make him a household name among American socialites, including Vogue’s late editor Diana Vreeland, in the Forties and Fifties.

    James’s label drew fanfare for its sculptural designs that helped transform the body into a feminine work of art. His approach to design is even said to have inspired Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’ collection.


    In print: Scenes from The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Charles James: Beyond Fashion book have been released in anticipation of the museum's exhibit by the same name (pictured, the most famous image of James's work, photographed by Cecil Beaton for Vogue in 1948)

    Considered America’s first-ever couture house, James’s confectionery designs were a favorite of society swans including Millicent Rogers, Diana Vreeland, and Austine Hearst.

    The MET’s exhibit book, written by Costume Institute curators Harold Koda and Jan Glier Reeder (out late May), chronologically explores James’s impact on the design world by tracing the many triumphs and pitfalls of his near 50 year career.

    The title’s prologue is written by one of James’s modern-day equivalents, Ralph Rucci, who writes of James’s work: ‘[His designs] are not merely clothes, or “shapes,” as James would call them. They are three-dimensional sculptures that come alive once on a woman’s body, because James was ever mindful of the woman wearing the shape. He was the couturier.’

    Many of the gowns that will be displayed at the MET exhibit James’s singature hand for construction and technique. The designer is best known for whipping feminine fabrics into frothy creations that accentuated a woman's anatomy.


    Structurally sound: James's work enlisted mathmatical structure to emphasize a woman's body, creating elegant, yet sensual designs (pictured, James fits a suit onto a model)

    It's for this reason that Mr Rucci writes: ‘Charles James had nothing to do with fashion. Rather, he applied himself to the rigors of mathematics in the creation of fashion.’

    A native Englishman who grew up among nobility including Brideshead Revisited novelist Evelyn Waugh, James moved to Chicago in 1926 to open a hat shop.

    Two years later, in 1928, he moved to New York City with 70 cents and opened a fashion design studio in a Long Island garage – later moving into a residence in Murray Hill, Queens.

    It was then that James began conceptualizing his sartorial innovations while shuttling between London and New York City

    In 1929, he designed his now-famous taxi dress- a gown that, while intricate in appearance, was constructed so that a woman could easily slip it on in the back of a taxi.

    The dress was reconfigured to include a new invention, the zipper, in 1933 - versions of which will be included in the MET’s Costume Institute exhibit, opening on May 8.


    Picture perfect: James's second wife Nancy poses in his 'Swan' gown in 1955. James would often name many of his gowns after figures including butterflies and swans.

    The exhbit will be celebrated with the MET's annual star-studded Costume Institute exhibit on May 5, which will also mark the opening of the Anna Wintour Costume Center wing.

    Over the next 20 years James’s designs caught the eyes of social swans in New York and abroad, by offering couture services through stores including
    Harrods and Bergdorf Goodman.

    But throughout his success, Mr James’s lacking business skills landed him and his label in a flood of financial difficulties.

    When WWII rations began, his adoration for voluminous gowns exacerbated these issues due to the soaring cost of textiles.

    But James managed to license his name to brands including Elizabeth Arden and B. Altman, for which he created mass-produced lines in a ploy to recover some cash.

    The designer managed to keep these ventures an arm’s length from his wealthier clients, who continued to patron his couture creations throughout the duration of the war and beyond. For this, he is considered an innovator in the field of licensing - a point of interest that will be highlighted in The MET's exhibition.


    Plumage: James's 'Butterfly' gown is worn by a model in 1954, in a photo taken by James's friend Cecil Beaton

    In 1948, James’s social notoriety lead to a Cecil Beaton fashion shoot for Vogue, which produced the most famous images of James’s work in existence.

    Placed on society swans in an 18th century French room, Vogue’s image displays how James’s designs were not all that different from Rococo fashions, as both highlight femininity through exaggerated form.

    But while Rococo-era gowns did so through extreme corseting and hoop skirts, James’s designs enlisted a more human approach – making them a viable option for both sitting pretty and navigating the dance floor.

    He once said of his creations: ‘My structures...look as if the body is no more ambulatory than a mermaid’s yet permit large reckless movement.’

    But by the end of the Fifties, James’s financial difficulties began to catch up with him, leading to an entanglement with various business partners, as well as the IRS.


    Famous patron: Austine Hearst, one of James's most famous society patrons, wears his 'Clover Leaf' gown in 1953 (this gown will be featured in the MET's exhibition)

    For this, James’s name began to lose cachet, forcing him to turn his attentions elsewhere. In 1958, he began mentoring a young Roy Halston, who shot to acclaim for his own take on femininity in the Studio 54 era.

    The two created a joint runway collection in 1970 which was widely panned, representing James’s last major stab at fashion design.

    Eight years later, in 1978, he died of pneumonia in the Chelsea Hotel, completely penniless.

    But as Mr Koda writes in the MET’s book, the museum is more interested in reviving James’s importance, rather than his shortcomings.

    ‘This book and the exhibition it accompanies attempt to re-establish the stature of this singular artist and to revisit the details of his life with the belief that the work and then man, stripped of years of accrued anecdote and myth, emerge fresher and more astonishingly original than ever,’ he says.

    Read more: How Charles James became America's first-ever couturier | Mail Online
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    Last edited by dougie; May 5th, 2014 at 07:14 AM.

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    Michelle Obama to open Met's Anna Wintour Costume Center - Style - TODAY.com

    Michelle Obama to open Met's Anna Wintour Costume Center

    Eun Kyung Kim TODAY
    May 4, 2014 at 8:14 AM ET


    Annie Leibovitz / AP
    The first lady, shown here on a 2013 cover of Vogue, will help open the Metropolitan Museum of Art's new Costume Center named for the magazine's editor.

    Michelle Obama will help open the Metropolitan Museum of Art's newly renovated Costume Institute during a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday in New York.

    The first lady was scheduled to speak at a ceremony for the revamped gallery, now named the Anna Wintour Costume Center after the editor-in-chief of Vogue. Obama has twice graced the cover of the magazine, which once dubbed her “the first lady of fashion.”

    The Anna Wintour Costume Center will be the home to exhibition galleries, a library, a conservation laboratory, research areas and offices, according to the museum, which recently finished a two-year renovation of the center. The center's inaugural show is dedicated to master couturier, Charles James. The famed designer is credited with creating intricate and ornate pieces, as well as inspiring everyday wear like the infinity scarf, the wrap dress and the down jacket.

    At the ribbon cutting, the first lady will speak to an audience that will include students from the Fashion Institute of Technology and the High School of Fashion Industries.

    She will then head to two New York events for the Democratic National Committee, according to the White House.

    Michelle Obama to open Met's Anna Wintour Costume Center - Style - TODAY.com



    ETA:

    http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-m...costume-center

    Metropolitan Museum to Designate Renovated
    Costume Institute the Anna Wintour Costume Center




    (New York, January 14, 2014)—Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced today that the Museum will designate the space occupied by The Costume Institute as the Anna Wintour Costume Center. The complex has been completely redesigned and renovated and will reopen on May 8 with the inaugural exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion. The Anna Wintour Costume Center will house the Department’s exhibition galleries, library, conservation laboratory, research areas, and offices. The curatorial department itself will continue to be called The Costume Institute.

    “Anna Wintour’s extraordinary advocacy and fundraising have made this state-of-the-art space a reality,” said Daniel Brodsky, the Museum’s Chairman. “She has the rare ability to rally diverse groups across a wide range of industries to support The Costume Institute so it can educate and inspire visitors from around the world.”

    Ms. Wintour, Artistic Director of Condé Nast and Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, has been a Trustee of the Met since January 1999. In her role as benefit chair and fundraiser, Ms. Wintour has raised approximately $125 million for The Costume Institute. Her work has included co-chairing 15 benefits since 1995, helping to secure sponsorships and funding for exhibitions as well as for the two-year renovation and other projects.

    “Through her bold leadership at the helm of the annual Costume Institute Benefit plus other significant fundraising, Anna has helped us realize a place where The Costume Institute can move into the future with the latest technology for creating immersive, cutting-edge exhibitions, developing new techniques for object conservation, and designing a customized collection storage facility,” said Mr. Campbell. “Her interest in our mission has allowed us to rise to new levels of growth and prominence. She is an exceptional benefactor, advocate, and friend.”

    The Anna Wintour Costume Center will include The Costume Institute’s 4,200-square-foot main showcase – the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery – which features a flexible design that lends itself to frequent transformation, a zonal sound system, innovative projection technology, and wireless connectivity. The Center also includes the Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery, which will orient visitors to The Costume Institute’s exhibitions and holdings; a state-of-the-art costume conservation laboratory; an expanded study/storage facility that will house the combined holdings of the Met and the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection; and The Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library, one of the world’s foremost fashion libraries.

    Funding for the renovation also includes a landmark gift of $10 million from Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch along with $1 million commitments from Janet and Howard Kagan and the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation.

    The Costume Institute was previously refurbished in 1992. The last exhibition in its galleries was blog.mode: addressing fashion which closed in April 2008. The Charles James exhibition will also be on view in the Museum’s first-floor exhibition galleries from May 8 through August 10.

    Founded in 1937 as The Museum of Costume Art, it was incorporated and renamed as The Costume Institute and became a part of the Metropolitan Museum in 1946. It now contains a collection of fashionable dress and regional costumes from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, dating from the 17th century to the present. In January 2009, The Brooklyn Museum transferred its costume collection, amassed over more than a century, to The Costume Institute, where it is known as the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The combined collection of more than 35,000 pieces constitutes one of the largest, most comprehensive costume collections in the world, offering an unrivaled timeline of Western fashion history.

    ###

    January 14, 2014

    http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-m...costume-center
    Last edited by dougie; May 5th, 2014 at 07:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dougie View Post
    The title’s prologue is written by one of James’s modern-day equivalents, Ralph Rucci, who writes of James’s work: ‘[His designs] are not merely clothes, or “shapes,” as James would call them. They are three-dimensional sculptures that come alive once on a woman’s body, because James was ever mindful of the woman wearing the shape. He was the couturier.’


    He sounds like a pretty cool guy. Some designers seem to hold women's bodies in contempt. I like that he married elegance with ease of movement and wear.


    Famous patron: Austine Hearst, one of James's most famous society patrons, wears his 'Clover Leaf' gown in 1953 (this gown will be featured in the MET's exhibition)
    Now I see what Dita von Teese was going for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lalasnake View Post
    [/COLOR]Now I see what Dita von Teese was going for.


    And Sandra LEE

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    What an amazing exhibit this would be to visit.

    The dresses in the pics are just drool worthy and divine!

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