Galleria: Charles James: Beyond Fashion @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art

charles-james-beyond-fashion-costume-institute-photos.sw.6.1-charles-james-met-ss-02If Petrarch wanted to express his gratitude, he might write someone a sonnet; Emerson, a short story. Charles James, on the other hand, might design someone a dress, much like he did for Washington, DC socialite Sidney Kent Legare. James, a British-American designer who Christian Dior once credited with inspiring “The New Look,” approached fashion in the same way brilliant artisans approach a canvas. “A great designer does not seek acceptance,” James is quoted as saying in one of 18 signature Metropolitan panels. “He challenges popularity and by the force of his convictions renders popular in the end what the public hates at first sight.”

Charles James, curated in conjunction with the newly-minted Anna Wintour Costume Center, furthers the Met’s ongoing campaign to meld the worlds of art and fashion. Unlike 2013’s Punk: Chaos to Couture – a wildly popular exhibit which contrived a certain necessary grit – Charles James remains exquisitely resplendent … engaging, bare and honest throughout.

(Charles James: Beyond Fashion continues at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through August 10th. Free with suggested donation. 5th Avenue @ 82nd Street.)

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