Charles James : Beyond Fashion

by Harold Koda

Other authorsGlenn Petersen (Contributor), Jan Glier Reeder (Author.), Ralph Rucci (Foreword), Sarah Scaturro (Contributor)
Paperback, 2014




New York : The Metropolitan Museum of Art, [2014]


Charles James, often considered to be America's first couturier, was renowned in the 1940s and 1950s as a master at sculpting fabric for the female form and creating fashions that defined mid-century glamour. Although James had no formal training as a dressmaker, he created strikingly original and complex designs, including intricate ball gowns worn by members of high society in New York and Europe. This lavishly illustrated book offers a comprehensive study of James' life and work, highlighting his virtuosity and inventiveness as well as his influence on subsequent fashion designers. Featuring exciting new photography of the spectacular evening dresses James produced between 1947 and 1955, this publication includes enlightening details of these intricate creations alongside vintage photographs and rarely seen archival items, such as patterns, muslins, dress forms and sketches. A detailed and illustrated chronology of James' life describes his magnetic personality, his unorthodox design processes, his colourful supporters - such as Salvador Dali, Elsa Schiaparelli, Christian Dior, and Cristobal Balenciaga - and profiles of a number of his famous clients, such as Gypsy Rose Lee.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Whisper1
This heavy, large coffee table book is incredible. I found this gem at the Bethlehem Library and brought it home to take time to enjoy all the lovely ball gowns and dresses. This is the show piece from an May 8-August 10, 2014 exhibit at the New York Metropolitan Art Museum Costume Institute. How I wish I would have seen this marvelous display.

The images are lush and exceedingly beautiful. I never heard of Charles James, but hope to visit the Met in the upcoming months to see if any of the gowns are still on display. The book notes that the gowns were taken from the Brooklyn Custome Institute and given to the Met. Many of the gowns were worn in the late 1940-early 1950's by New York high society women and the rich and famous of Europe.

With no formal training, Charles James made very intricate designs using just the right materials to highlight the female figure.
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