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Designer Charles James

High Fashion Exhibit at Chicago History Museum

Charles James "Tree" dress. Click image to view photo gallery.He created one-of-a-kind fashions for everyone, from socialites to strippers. Charles James was a brilliant but difficult man who wanted to be an artist, not a designer. We hear from the curator of a new exhibit that deconstructs his crafty creations on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.

Charles James is one of less than a handful of American designers to have worked in the pure tradition of haute couture. He has been described as the greatest couturier of his time by the Parisian design world. James was most famous for his unique ability to balance the intuition of an artist with the precise technical skill of an engineer.

Charles James: Genius Deconstructed explores the history of couture fashion designer Charles James and why nearly 40 years after his death he is still a relevant force in the fashion world. The exhibition‚ featuring 15 of James’ most iconic designs from 1928 through 1958‚ will be on display at the Chicago History Museum from October 22‚ 2011‚ through April 16‚ 2012.

To understand the "Tree" (pictured left), the Chicago History Museum took the dress to The Field Museum and performed a CT scan, using equipment normally used to examine ancient mummies.


In the following video, the scan reveals the complex skeleton of a dress, rather than its wearer.

View the image gallery below to see some of James’ designs. Visit the links below for more on the exhibition.