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5 Things You Should Know About Tonight's Met Gala Honoree Charles James

| Filed under: Fashion SmashionMet GalaBalenciagaChristian DiorMarisa Tomei

marisa tomei vintage charles james dress oscars 2011

This year's Met Ball honors the legendary Charles James, who is often referred to as America's first couturier.

We can't wait to see modern takes on this sartorial wizard's magnificent ball gowns, but first let's get to know him a little bit better!

Dive on into the facts pool …AFTER THE JUMP!!!

charles james met gala exhibit

Here are some fun facts about the 20th century designer!

1. James was a master engineer who used cloth as his medium. His early years working as a milliner helped him hone his craft and to use the structural techniques imperative to hat-making as a jumping-off point for his exquisitely refined gowns.

Look, there he is (below)!

charles james met gala

2. His dresses usually weighed between 10 to 18 pounds. However, they were constructed so perfectly that they weren't at all heavy or difficult to wear. His genius lay not only in design, but in flawless workmanship as well!

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3. The designer was revered during his lifetime by other couturiers as talented as Cristobal Balenciaga and Christian Dior. Balenciaga famously called him "the world's best and only dressmaker," while Dior heralded his work as "poetry."

charles james met gala 4

4. He was possibly the world's most meticulous perfectionist! James once spent two years and $20,000 working on creating the perfect sleeve. He also spent 12 years perfecting a particular dress design. Sometimes, even after finishing a garment, he would declare it unfit, then destroy it and start all over again.

charles james met gala 2

5. During his 50 years as a couturier, he created more than 1,000 gorgeous and impeccable pieces, including a quilted down jacket that later served as the prototype for the modern puffer jacket. Some of his best creations will be on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 8th until August 10th.

If you're in the NYC area during that time, don't miss this exhibit!

And CLICK HERE to check out the past decade's Best and Worst Dressed looks!!

[Image via Nigel Barker Instagram, Adriana M. Barraza/WENN, Vogue, and Chicago History Museum.]

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2 comments to “5 Things You Should Know About Tonight's Met Gala Honoree Charles James”



  1. 1

    You forgot to mention that due to his excentricities he died basically penniless and in squalor. He lost everything despite being so immensly talented and a fashion genius.

  2. @v@ says – reply to this


    2

    Re: kabuki girl – Wow. Goes to read his bio.