May 29, 2014

Couturier Engineer

“Creation is simply a problem and design is the way out.”—Charles James

The Charles James show at the Met is a consummate marriage of resplendently architected gowns and other high fashion garments, and computer visualization. The latter truly adds value in revealing James’ brilliance as not only a designer but as an engineer of fabric, draped and contoured to feminine form. See his cloverleaf and tulip gowns. He was a multidimensional talent, who imbued his work with a sophisticated knowledge of materials, mathematics (tessellation and even fractals), and a respect for the inner sensuality—his gowns, especially—could evince from his high society female subjects.

“What, after all, is the true function of fashion but to be a rehearsal for propagation? Rehearsals, we might better say.”

The exhibit, set in nocturnal light, is also illuminated by some of James’ colorful bons mots.

imageTwo things that I rued about the show: Photography was forbidden and so was throwing myself all over the gowns to touch and be enveloped by their splendor.

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