“Charles James considered himself an artist, and approached fashion with a sculptor’s eye and a scientist’s logic,” said Mr. Campbell. “As such, the Met is the ideal place to explore the rich complexity of his innovative work.”
“Charles James was a wildly idiosyncratic, emotionally fraught fashion genius who was also committed to teaching,” said Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute.
“He dreamt that his lifetime of personal creative evolution and the continuous metamorphosis of his designs would be preserved as a study resource for students. In our renovated galleries, we will fulfill his goal and illuminate his design process as a synthesis of dressmaking, art, math, and science.”
“James was an artist who chose fabric and its relationship to the human body as his medium of expression,” said Jan Glier Reeder, Consulting Curator in The Costume Institute, who is organizing the exhibition with Harold Koda. “In fact, a devoted James client once said, ‘...his work went beyond fashion and was a fine art.’” Beyond Fashion was also the title James chose for the autobiography he never wrote.
Charles James was the innovator and creator of design elements: wrap-over trousers, figure-eight skirts, body-hugging sheaths, ribbon capes and dresses, spiral-cut garments, and poufs. He also made iconic ball gowns from the late 1940s and early 1950s–the "Clover Leaf," "Butterfly," "Tree".
“He dreamt that his lifetime of personal creative evolution and the continuous metamorphosis of his designs would be preserved as a study resource for students. "
THEN and NOW
The rebirth of Charles James works of ART, should be a reminder to all struggling artists, who may feel their works are not understood during their lifetime.
James has beat the test of time, and he is in many ways reborn through the creations he left behind. Still fresh, admired, inspiring, innovative, and now appreciated.