The Met has announced that for its 2014 Costume Institute exhibition, they will pay homage to designer Charles James, the underrated couturier who literally laid out a radical blueprint for 20th-century evening wear. Known for his uncanny ability to cut cloth to perfectly fit the female form, the British-born, American-based James possessed a sui generis that reportedly made even Cristobal Balenciaga jealous. Equal parts scientist, mathematician, and designer, James will be hailed as such by the Institute, which will examine 100 of his most dynamic works spanning two floors, from May 8 through August 10 of next year. Of course, it will be prefaced by the illustrious red carpet Gala, which will take place on May 5.
He may not be a household name such as previous Costume Institute honorees like Alexander McQueen and Miuccia Prada, but James' advances in pattern making have turned him into a force of his own. James counted silver-screen sirens like Austine Hearst, Millicent Rogers, and Dominique de Menila among his adoring fans, transforming them into walking marvels of moving, organic architecture. Gowns had names like "Four-Leaf Clover," "Butterfly," "Tree," "Swan," and "Diamond," and morphed red carpet dressing into an art form resembling the precision, symmetry, and grace of sculpture — traits that still defines modern-day progressive design.
Naturally, we're fascinated to see how today's vanguard fashion thinkers — Rodarte, Hussein Chalayan, and Charlie Le Mindu, to name a few — will interpret James' legacy for next year's Gala. We're picturing Rooney Mara in a sinuous Givenchy column resembling a shadowy steeple, Lady Gaga and Le Mindu partnering up to reinvent the biomechanical limits of the human form, and Miley Cyrus latching onto any designer who will agree that invisible bandage wrap qualifies as bleeding-edge draping. Actually, nix that last idea and put Tilda Swinton in something stunningly statuesque instead.
In any case, James receiving the Costume Institute — and Gala — treatment is a victory for true designers everywhere. We're psyched to see his pattern making take on new relevance in a generation of creatives yearning to find the sweet spot between technology and the human touch. (Huffington Post)(Huffington Post)