Born On This Day: Charles James July 18, 1906


Charles James is getting a lot of recognition this year with a look at his legendary career with an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Charles James:  Beyond Fashion. Considered to be a “master of the cut and fold” his creations are an architectural marvel. Hailed by his rivals like Chanel, Dior, Balenciaga, Schiaparelli as well as countless women  from high society ( and not so high like Gypsy Rose Lee) as the best and only dressmaker, James considered himself first and foremost an artist.  Take a look at some of his art.

 Charles James

4 leaf clover dress



Costume Institute Presentation on Upcoming Charles James: Beyond Fashion Exhibition


A few facts about Charles James

  • Some of his dresses weighed up to 18 pounds.
  • James was largely a self taught designer
  • He started in fashion making hats
  • Married Nancy Lee Gregory and had 2 children
  • James was openly gay
  • For a career that was over 50 years, there are about a 1000 of his gowns  left
  • He is said to have spent 12 years on one dress
  • He designed a children’s line after the birth of his son
  • He added the zipper into couture gowns
  • Died alone and broke in 1974

Further Reading

Charles James: Beyond Fashion (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

A behind the scenes look at some of James’ gowns from the Chicago History Museum

Exhibit at the Menil in Houston, Texas




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