charles james

Charles James: Beyond Fashion. If you missed The Met exhibit, read this!

The Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

Charles James: Beyond Fashion by fabsugar

The Met’s Costume Institute exhibit celebrating an enormous collection of Charles James garments ended today.  We snuck in under the wire and got a chance to see it, and we can’t be happier to have witnessed this display of genius in fashion live.  The Met has been creating inspiring exhibits for years, but since they combined efforts with The Brooklyn Museum, their archives and resources have become legendary.  We are so glad to see time, effort, and truly creative curatorial technology in play when it comes to showcasing fashion history.  The Met really is the best place to see exhibits of this type in The United States, and the only thing we’ve seen to compare with their work is at The Victoria and Albert in London.  Support these institutions, and others like them!

Charles James at The Met, and Zac Posen at The Met Gala


“It’s funny,” said Zac Posen just before his second showing this evening. “Charles James has been in the air a lot these days.” (Yes, he has—seeing that the couturier is the subject of this year’s Met Costume Institute Gala.) Posen’s fall collection is about form, evening elegance, and American craft, he explained—all things that James practically invented. He was introduced to the mid-century master’s work by the poet and artist René Ricard, whom Posen counts as a mentor and his “biggest supporter” (and who passed away just over a week ago). And James’s oeuvre has clearly stayed with him.

You could see echoes of James’s four-leaf clover dress in Posen’s blue-gray bias-cut neckline ball dress, as well as in his sea foam silk-faille strapless “quatrefoil dress.” But it’s not all about James. This was still Posen’s show. He’s been in business ten years now, and this outing marked an evolution into more streamlined and simple territory than we’ve perhaps ever seen from Posen. In his own words: “There were no ruffles.” There were, however, mélange tweed suits and dresses for day in burgundy, dark blue, and gray; structured cashmere coats; duchesse satin cocktail dresses with architectural touches.

Posen offered plenty of night looks to choose from—including an anthracite-hued duchesse with a pleated neckline and a removable floor-length cape, and a jet-black mermaid dress. But the two that did Posen and his studio proudest were a tangerine taffeta ball dress with a pleated skirt and a similar style in teal. They were totally Met ready, and it will be fun to see who gets to wear them come May.

review of the zac posen fall 2014 collection written by florence kane for