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April 19 2014

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15 posts tagged "The Costume Institute"

Was Charles James More Radical Than Punks? A Look Into the Upcoming Met Exhibition

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Charles James

“It’s an opportunity to blow everyone’s minds,” grinned Costume Institute curator Harold Koda at the new (and very much so, as the paint was still drying) Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday morning. Koda was referring not just to the physical space, but the forthcoming inaugural exhibition, Charles James: Beyond Fashion. “He is generally acknowledged to be one of a handful of designers to have changed the métier of design,” said Koda of the innovative couturier. “Christian Dior has credited James with inspiring his New Look. And Balenciaga said, ‘James is not America’s best couturier; he is simply the world’s best.’ When you have the two perhaps most important male designers of the mid-20th century endorsing you, you can understand that it’s something of a lack that the general public is not aware of this man’s work.”

Yesterday’s press conference provided a small window into what to expect in May’s exhibition. There was a curated collection of James’ original pieces on display: The deep red, seamlessly movable silk taffeta Tree dress he created for Marietta Peabody Tree (Penelope’s mother) in 1955 and the renowned Four-Leaf Clover ball gown, made for Austine Hearst and worn with a live-gardenia-covered jacket in 1953, were two. The jacket was re-created with the tech-ready help of architecture firm DRS. Elettra Wiedemann slipped into the 10-pound, strapless, curve-highlighting creation to give the attendees a sense of its ballroom twirl.

Costume Institute Presentation on Upcoming Charles James: Beyond Fashion Exhibition“[James was the] originator of the spiral-cut taxi dress. Advocator of the strapless. Inventor of the figure-eight shirt and puffer jacket. A waist that expanded after a meal. The no-cup bra,” asserted Koda, later telling Style.com, “[He] was really radical. He was an early proponent at a point where he made something that was difficult to understand very desirable. He treated the creation of clothing as an art. Even some of the greatest designers have said, ‘Oh, this is not an art. It’s a craft.’ Vionnet said, ‘I’m a dressmaker.’ Balenciaga, who used conventional tailoring and pushed it to the extreme, was still reliant on history. James wasn’t like that at all.”

The exhibition will open May 8 and run through August 10. It’s a move away from recent mass read, overtly pop culture, sexy Costume Institute shows—punk, the model, the supermodel, etc. A lesson in the underappreciated, indeed.

Photos: Joe Schildhorn / BFAnyc.com

The Met To Remember Charles James

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Charles JamesFollowing this year’s much-talked-about exhibition, Punk: Chaos to Couture, the Met announced today that the next subject in line at the Costume Institute will be twentieth-century couturier Charles James. While it mightn’t exactly pack the pop-culture punch that punk did this year, Charles James: Beyond Fashion will show off the work of a less-remembered designer who is still regarded as a genius by those in the know. Curated by Harold Koda and Jan Glier Reeder, the exhibition will give visitors the chance to see the innovations James made within haute couture up close, from wrap-over trousers to spiral-cut dresses. But it’s James’ iconic ball gowns from the thirties through to the fifties that will take center stage. Drawn from an archive acquired in part from the Brooklyn Museum in 2009, and lovingly restored by the Met, these technically astounding dresses might be enough to make Charles James a household name once more. The extensive collection—the most comprehensive of any designer at any museum in the world—will be showcased in a newly renovated Costume Institute making its debut at the annual gala in May 2014. Mark the date in your diaries now. We can’t wait to see how fashion’s celebrities interpret this one.

Photo: Photo: Cecil Beaton

Punk’s Not Dead?

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Punk: Chaos to Couture

According to a tweet from The New York Times‘ Eric Wilson, the Met’s Punk: Chaos to Couture racked up a total of 442,350 visitors before closing on August 14, making it the fifth most popular Costume Institute exhibition in the past twenty-five years (the other four being Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy, and Chanel—in that order). Considering several critics gave the show less-than-glowing reviews, it looks like Punk has boisterously proved ’em all wrong, yet again.

Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Who’s That Girl?

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The Costume Institute’s Prada/Schiaparelli exhibition is well on the way, which means only one thing: The annual Costume Institute Gala is coming soon, too. Designers scramble to snap up celebrity dates for one of fashion’s biggest nights, and competition is fierce. So far, only two pairings have been revealed. Joseph Altuzarra will be taking love-her-or-hate-her chanteuse Lana Del Rey, who has been an all but inescapable presence in the cultural conversation for months. (Is she authentic? Inauthentic? Can she sing? Does it matter?) This afternoon, it was revealed that Proenza Schouler will be taking Australian actress Isabel Lucas, to which the resounding response is…who?

If you haven’t heard much about Lucas yet, it’s likely that soon you will. The young actress is well-known in her native Australia, where she rose to fame on the soap Home and Away, but much farther under the radar in the U.S., despite roles in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Daybreakers, Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe’s grisly vampire flick. But Lucas has caught the eye of some of Hollywood’s most powerful and respected. Steven Spielberg cast her in his miniseries The Pacific in 2010, and she nabbed a key role in The Tree of Life director Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups, alongside Natalie Portman and Christian Bale. And though she may look new, Lucas is no stranger to the fashion scene—this isn’t even her first Met gala. She attended last year, finding her way onto several best-dressed lists, as a guest of Louis Vuitton.

Photo: Julian Mackler / BFAnyc.com

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