Nearly all of entertainment’s most prestigious personalities assembled in New York City last night for the 2014 Met Gala. The glittering event annually recognizes the start of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s fashion exhibit. This year, the exhibit highlights the life and work of pioneering fashion designer Charles James, with “Charles James: Beyond Fashion,” which opens to the public May 8.
The English-born designer got his start making hats in Chicago, Illinois. Uniquely, after relocating to New York, James used his background as a hat maker to become what fellow iconic designer Cristobal Balenciaga would later christen as “the world’s best and only dressmaker.”
(Christian Dior thought James was brilliant, too.)
His work, or art I should say, of designing dresses was genius. He held himself to a maniacal standard. And although he died in 1978, he remains a steady inspiration to the world of couture. A fascinating exhibitionist, Charles James will forever be known for his penchant of designing dresses that alluringly shaped the women who wore them. He would have been pleased with several of last night’s dresses.
Model Suki Waterhouse was magnificent in Burberry, as was actress Emmy Rossum in floral Carolina Herrera. However it was Prabal Gurung’s custom black and white design — worn by Hailee Steinfeld — that was magical. It simply evoked everything that Charles James’ artistry stood for.
The visuals of the event’s red carpet repeatedly brought to mind old Hollywood. This was no more evident than when actress Blake Lively arrived in metallic Gucci, commanding the setting and everyone in it.
Charles James was once quoted as saying, “I recognize that virtually every company that comes in here has a perspective. It’s often not difficult to understand why they have the perspective that they have.” He may have been on to something, because there were three “companies” on the red carpet that made their powerful, pristine, and proper perspectives adamantly clear: the Beckhams, the Bradys, and the Carters.