25 posts tagged "Georgina Chapman"
When the subject of this year’s annual Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute exhibition was first announced, the general crowd reaction seemed to be, “Charles who?”
Months later, with the Charles James exhibition set to close this Sunday, that’s a question a lot fewer people are asking. Charles James: Beyond Fashion turned out to be the fifth-most-visited show of the last 25 years of Costume Institute exhibitions, according to the museum. Attendance didn’t quite reach that of the record-breaking 2011 Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition (which drew an unprecedented 661,509 visitors), but it did top last year’s Punk show and the previous year’s Schiaparelli/Prada display.
“My feeling was it was going to help us that he was generally unknown, because it allowed us to introduce him to an audience that I knew would be enchanted by the work,” Harold Koda, the Costume Institute’s curator in charge, told The New York Times.
The crowds were dazzled, and those who didn’t make it in person got a heavy dose of the James world through social media. There are currently more than 15,000 Instagram posts with a Charles James hashtag. (By comparison, there are only roughly 5,000 Insta posts tagged with #savagebeauty.) Among them are posts about the exhibition by some of the widely followed Insta-stars, and there was even an “impromptu fashion shoot” featuring top models wearing James-esque gowns that flooded our news feed in the week leading up to the opening. Like it or not, the world was forced to get to know James and his sculptural designs, thanks to the social media buzz that surrounded it.
Though the exhibition ends this weekend, it looks like James is here to stay for a while, due to the recently announced revival of the label by Harvey Weinstein and his wife, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman. Until then, the exhibition will live on digitally, thanks to Twitter and Instagram.
After Monday night’s Met Gala, rumors broke that Harvey Weinstein—media mogul and husband to Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman—was in talks to revive the Charles James label, whose founding designer is, of course, the subject of this year’s Costume Institute exhibition, Charles James: Beyond Fashion, opening on May 8. I had hoped the rumors were just that, and that James’ artistic legacy would not be muddied by modern interpretations and production pressures. However, Weinstein has now confirmed that he has inked a deal to license the house with the option to buy. “Charles James was one of the most incredible couturiers in the history of fashion, and this label deserves to be a household name in the same ranks as Chanel, Dior, and Oscar de la Renta,” he said in a statement. Ms. Chapman and her brother, Marchesa CEO Edward Chapman, will serve as creative consultants.
No doubt, it will be interesting to see where the trio takes the label, but the revival won’t be easy. In order to honor James’ vision, the new designs will need to be thoroughly forward-thinking, impeccably handcrafted, and not overtly referential. After all, James was obsessed with the future and disapproved of nostalgia. “There is no going back,” he’s quoted as saying. “Study the past to know why, not what, and from the why, dream and do.” Weinstein and the Chapmans will need to heed these words if they’re to bring the brand back with integrity. Here’s hoping the revival succeeds in making James a household name for the right reasons.
I sincerely hope the rumors that broke today about Harvey Weinstein’s plans to revive the house of Charles James are just rumors. According to Page Six, the movie mogul is in talks with James’ children to buy and “breathe new life into the Charles James name.” If the publication’s unnamed sources are to be believed, Weinstein aims to create an “exclusive couture house,” and will bring his wife, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, on as a “creative consultant.” At press time, Weinstein could not be reached for comment.
No one is more thrilled than I that last night’s Met Gala and the Charles James: Beyond Fashion exhibition have helped the public to discover the late great couturier, and given him the recognition he so deserves. And my reservations have nothing to do with Chapman’s skill as a designer—everyone she dressed for the Met bash looked lovely. Rather, my concern is that this will not celebrate, but muddy James’ legacy. James was of a certain era, and if some of the throwback styles we saw on the red carpet yesterday evening are any indication, his aesthetic does not easily translate to modern day. His gowns were works of sculpture, and I fear that if someone were to re-create them—or create wares “inspired” by them—the results will be cartoonish (or worse, mediocre) rather than respectful.
Look at Halston, which was also revived by Weinstein. (He invested in the brand along with Sarah Jessica Parker, but sold his share back in 2011.) Once the go-to label for the crème de la crème of New York’s seventies party scene, Halston’s new age incarnation is but a mid-market mockery of its former glory. Please, Mr. Weinstein, don’t let the same thing happen to James. Allow his brilliant, singular designs to be appreciated for the works of art that they truly are, and don’t attempt to transform his revolutionary mid-century vision into a 21st-century cash cow.
Something old, something new, something Bali, something blue. That was our takeaway from the Spring ’15 bridal collections presented in New York over the last few days. Despite the influx of new labels and big retailers (such as J.Crew and Anthropologie) entering the market in recent years, most women still want a traditional look for their big day, and so there was no shortage of white lace, tulle, beading, and couture-like embellishment on the runways. What has changed is the broader scope of nuptial ceremonies that designers are addressing.
“There are so many different kinds of weddings and so many different types of brides now,” said Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman backstage before her show. “You’ve got classic church weddings, town hall weddings, and destination weddings, but ultimately, the dress should still be beautiful. It should be romantic. It should be ethereal. It should make a bride feel like a princess or a queen for the day.” And so, Marchesa sent out a modern selection of cocktail and tea-length styles in addition to its more familiar confections. Oscar de la Renta also addressed the changing nature of weddings by featuring relatively casual looks, including a cotton eyelet bikini and matching pareo (accessorized with a floral head wreath and lei) that would be ideal for saying “I do” on a beach.
Vera Wang, meanwhile, went unconventional in a different way, debuting her new collection via a short film. No need to be a store buyer or a magazine editor to score a front-row seat. “The opportunity to create a visual and expressive experience of the clothes, as interpreted by my fashion vision, is a whole new way for me to communicate with not only brides, but women everywhere,” Wang said in a statement.