Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Charles James at the MMA

Fantastical dresses and Cinderella-like gowns filled three galleries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s featured presentation, “Charles James: Beyond Fashion”. 

I was pleased to find that photography was allowed, albeit ‘no flash’ in the darkened halls, and tried to capture the essence of each piece amidst shadows and subdued directional lighting.

It was a visual feast for the eyes with sumptuous, nearly decadent dresses comprised of towering layers of pleats, swags, and sculptural shapes, each presented in its own display like a special dessert.

One of the fascinating features of the exhibit was the special computer screen at the foot of each dress, showing its deconstruction in 3D animation, exploring every element of its design in blue print form.

I found the backs of each garment to be every bit as beautiful as the front, if not more so, with its fine attention to detail.

Here are a few highlights and close-ups.

Entrance to the first gallery of the exhibit.

Ball Gown, 1949-50.  Red Silk Velvet and Satin & White Cotton Organdy.  
Worn by Mrs. William (Babe) S. Paley in portrait.

Ball Gown, 1951.  Ivory Silk Satin with voluminous draping and ruching front and back, and shown in 3D.

One of Mr. James’ dissected mannequins.  
Scrap book photos displays James at work with mannequin.

A collection of sculptural dresses and gowns as displayed in the second gallery of the exhibit.

The exhibit runs through August 10th.