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The Next Met Ball Theme Is a Far Cry From Punk

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Image via <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/53035820@N02/4989459532/">Flickr</a>/Christine
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Gone are the pseudo-punk red carpets, and enter the elegance of "America's best-known couturier" Charles James, who was widely known for his sculptural ball gowns popular among mid-century society ladies. The Met's Costume Institute has chosen the title "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" for the exhibition's theme.

Harold Koda, curator in charge of the Costume Institute, notes, "He really is a one-of-a-kind designer. Even if you look through the history of French haute couture and all the English couture designers, James stands out as a very idiosyncratic personality and artist and one of the few designers who, in his own lifetime, felt that his work transcended the medium."

Instead of trying to define a movement which, at its core, resisted definition, the museum will focus on James' personality and the skills that separated him from European designers. Here's a laundry list of what you'll find, per WWD:

Among James' key designs that will be showcased are the wrap-over trousers, body-hugging sheaths, ribbon capes and dresses, spiral-cut garments and poufs. There will also be several iconic ball gowns from the late Forties and early Fifties such as the Four Leaf Clover, the Butterfly, Tree, Swan and Diamond designs. The exhibition has almost every major work James ever created, the Taxi dress among them.

"He had this funny idea that woman who wanted to dress and undress in a taxi could spiral out of this dress, and put on another dress," Koda noted. "We also have asymmetrical dinner dress that inspired Halston to make his asymmetrical necklines. The one thing we're lacking, which we are hoping to borrow from the Victoria and Albert Museum, is the Swan down jacket, a white, quilted satin jacket as an evening jacket.

The exhibit, which will debut May 8, will also showcase a Costume Institute galleries makeover, which will hopefully resolve some previous exhibits congestion issues. Great news. Lines are the worst. Also, Condé Nast and Aerin, by Aerin Lauder, will underwrite the exhibition.
· The Met's Costume Institute to Highlight Charles James [WWD]
· 100+ Red Carpet Photos From This Year's Met Ball [Racked]
· Gwyneth Paltrow Is Never Going to the Met Ball Again [Racked]