If you haven’t been to the Met to catch “Charles James: Beyond Fashion,” it’s time to go. The exhibit closes Aug. 10 —a mere two weeks away. Designer Charles James revolutionized the post-war fashion world by updating romantic silhouettes into modern statements. The Metropolitan Museum of Art honored the American couturier by showcasing 65 looks this summer.
“Beyond Fashion” is shown in two galleries — gallery for ball gowns and the second for everyday and evening wear. The low-lit interiors, with dramatic spotlights, mirror the mid-century drama of his designs. A wire skeleton underneath the garment dramatically displays James’ signature volume without a mannequin. Silk, velvet, tulle, faille, nylon, chiffon and — for his everyday wear — wool and cashmere, were combined for added effects of light, color and movement.
Must-see looks by Charles James
The Clover Leaf gown (1953) is masterful in its appearance due to its complicated geometry —from the sweetheart bodice jets a voluminous skirt where pieces are draped to create a petticoat that mimics the four-sided shape of a clover. This luscious gown of silk and velvet, with tulle underlay, is romantic in its materials and modern in its gravity-defying silhouette.
“We who have been ahead in style have usually been ahead in our thinking,” reflects from a mirrored wall onto his famous Butterfly gown (1955). With a tight ruched bodice and a fan-shaped tool train, this gown is a visual example of a designer whose career pushed fashion forward.
If you go
'Charles James: Beyond Fashion'
Through Aug. 10
Open 7 days a week, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
1000 Fifth Ave.