If I were to mention the name Charles James to a person on the street, I might be greeted with a look of vague recollection or utter confusion. The man credited with inspiring Dior's New Look and revolutionizing dress construction by incorporating sculptural, scientific, and mathematical approaches exists in the shadows of fashion history, until now. America's Balenciaga will be the center of attention this May as his work is spotlighted in both New York City and here in Houston.
The James love boat sets sail on May 8 with The Metropolitan Museum of Art's opening of Charles James: Beyond Fashion, which will run until early August. In total, 75 of James' most inspired designs will be showcased, including some of his most impressive evening gowns.
The exhibition opening coincides with this year's super exclusive celebrity soaked Met Gala on May 5 - tickets are $25,000 each. Last years gala brought us some cringe worthy fashion moments (looking at you Kim Kardashian), so we can expect a few surprises at the Charles James couture themed ball - the dress code is white tie for men, so let's see if Pharrell has a hat for that.
Another Charles James exhibit is premiering much closer to home. The Menil Collection's A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James will debut on May 31 and promises to be a much more intimate affair. The exhibition will not only showcase James' couture pieces, including evening wear, suits, and day wear, but also furniture pieces commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil for their River Oaks home, the designer's only entry into home decor. The couple were champions of James' work and over time built both a professional and personal relationship with the talented but sometimes difficult man behind the dress.
Hopefully, these upcoming events will translate to the world the genius of Charles James and the importance of his work. He was not just another designer, but an innovator the likes of his more famous counterparts Chanel and Dior. He was a master and deserves a seat at their table... now he gets one.
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