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The Costume Institute

Anna Wintour Costume Center | Charles James: Beyond Fashion

The Costume Institute's collection of more than thirty-five thousand costumes and accessories represents five continents and seven centuries of fashionable dress, regional costumes, and accessories for men, women, and children, from the fifteenth century to the present.

Teen Blog

Charles James, Artist and Innovator

Angeles, TAG Member; Jill, TAG Member; and Maleficent Twemlow (a.k.a. Anna), TAG Member

Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014

Charles James grew up traveling with his family to fashion capitals all over the globe. He gained inspiration from the world around him and then put his own personal spin on traditional ideas, never choosing to follow any particular seasonal trends. He loved to take funky fabric and work it into ways never seen before. For example, if a fabric was meant to be used in a stiff manner, James would soften it with steam and bend it to his desired shape. He was uncompromising in his vision, always favoring his personal ideals of feminine beauty over the specific desires of his clients, who, despite this stubbornness, loved him. He was a revolutionary iconoclast who considered himself as much an artist and a technician as a designer.

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Teen Blog

Charles James: Designing for the Female Form

Morgan, High School Intern

Posted: Friday, July 11, 2014

Charles James: Beyond Fashion features the works of revolutionary fashion designer Charles James, known for his avant-garde concepts and architecturally advanced structure and form. Upon coming into the gallery filled with ball gowns, you're greeted by these amazing dresses on circular pedestals. The whole room is so dimly lit that the dresses almost seem to be suspended in mid-air in the semidarkness.

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Teen Blog

Charles James: The Fashion Engineer

Brooke, TAG Member; Natalee, TAG Member; and Tiffany, TAG Member

Posted: Friday, July 4, 2014

As your eyes adjust to the dim light in the exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion, text appears on the glass before you and guides how you should consider the dresses behind it—if you can even call them dresses! Charles James revolutionized the twentieth-century fashion establishment through his idiosyncratic transformation of stiff millinery material into soft, fluid lines that mirror his notion of a woman's ideal form. The lines of his dresses emulate the modern art of Georgia O'Keeffe.

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Teen Blog

Fashion Unbound: Charles James at the Met

Hallie, Guest Blogger

Posted: Friday, June 27, 2014

The current exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion, the first in the Museum's new Anna Wintour Costume Center, features the work of one of the most significant couturiers of the twentieth century. When you walk into the exhibition, the lighting and placement of Charles James's glamorous ball gowns make you feel as though you're a guest at an enchanting party, and the dresses, which have names such as "Butterfly," "Clover Leaf," "Swan," and "Diamond," are exquisite.

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Now at the Met

Charles James: Beyond Fashion—Interview with Conservators Sarah Scaturro and Glenn Petersen

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sarah Scaturro and Glenn Petersen are conservators in The Costume Institute who not only contributed to the conservation of Charles James's works in Charles James: Beyond Fashion, on view through August 10, but also authored an essay for the catalogue which accompanies the exhibition. The book offers a comprehensive study of the life and work of legendary Anglo-American couturier Charles James (1906−1978) and highlights his virtuosity and inventiveness. This publication also includes early photographs and rarely seen archival items, such as muslin study pieces, dress forms, and sketches.

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Now at the Met

Charles James: Beyond Fashion—Interview with Photographer Karin L. Willis

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I recently sat down with Karin L. Willis, the photographer for the Charles James: Beyond Fashion catalogue that accompanies the current exhibition of James's work, on view through August 10. The publication offers a comprehensive study of the life and work of the legendary Anglo-American couturier Charles James (1906−1978), highlights his virtuosity and inventiveness, and includes early photographs and rarely seen archival items—including muslin study pieces, dress forms, and sketches. During our conversation Karin spoke about the challenging but rewarding process of photographing James's designs.

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Digital Underground

A Busy Week for @metmuseum

Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer

Posted: Friday, May 9, 2014

It's been a memorable couple of Mondays for the Met's social media efforts.

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Now at the Met

Interview with Charles James: Beyond Fashion Co-author Jan Glier Reeder

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Costume Institute's 2014 exhibition, Charles James: Beyond Fashion, opens May 8 and offers a comprehensive study of the life and work of legendary Anglo-American couturier Charles James (1906−1978). In the accompanying exhibition catalogue, co-author Jan Glier Reeder—consulting curator in The Costume Institute for the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art—highlights James's virtuosity and inventiveness, as well as his influence on future generations of fashion designers. This publication also includes early photographs and rarely seen archival items, such as muslin study pieces, dress forms, and sketches.

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Now at the Met

First Lady Michelle Obama Opens The Costume Institute's Anna Wintour Costume Center

Nancy Chilton, Head of Communications for The Costume Institute

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Yesterday morning, First Lady Michelle Obama cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of The Costume Institute's new Anna Wintour Costume Center, which has just undergone a two-year renovation. The space will reopen to the public this Thursday, May 8, with the exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion.

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Teen Blog

An International Take on Textiles

Brooke, TAG Member; and Tiffany, TAG Member

Posted: Monday, November 18, 2013

Though we tend to associate globalization with the modern, Western-dominated world of capital goods, in reality it began long ago with textiles. The current exhibition Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800 is the first major exhibition to explore this international exchange of design ideas through the medium of textiles.

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