Everything You Need To Know About the Charles James Exhibit

(Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Charles James Ball Gowns, 1948)Now that the Met Ball is over and you’re done oohing and ahing over the most anticipated red carpet of the year, let’s talk about the actual exhibit, "Charles James: Beyond Fashion," which opens today at The Costume Institute’s new Anna Wintour Costume Center at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. On view through August 10, the exhibit celebrates the epic career of the incredibly influential designer who was especially known for his fairytale-worthy ball gowns.
 (Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Charles James with Model, 1948; Nancy James in Charles James Swan Gown, 1955)James isn’t exactly a household name—but he should be. Despite his lack of formal training, he is regarded as one of the greatest haute couture designers to have worked in America. James began designing in his native London, then Paris, and came to New York City in 1940. The exhibit features approximately 75 of his designs from the 1920s until his death in 1978. There's also pattern pieces, sketches, swatches, ephemera, and partially completed gowns from his final studio in New York City’s Chelsea Hotel.
 (Source: Jason Merritt/Getty Images North America;Andrew Toth/Getty Images North America)His innovations in design and construction—using techniques borrowed from sculpture and math—continues to inspire designers today, and it’s easy to see why. His aesthetic is still coveted by A-listers, as evidenced by Marisa Tomei and Elettra Wiedemann, who wore his gorgeous gowns at the 2011 Academy Awards and at the Charles James exhibit press preview, respectively.

In case you aren't able to make it to New York City for the exhibit, take a virtual tour here.