“The American couturier Charles James viewed the female form as an armature on which to build his highly sculptural pieces. To give strength and shape to the luxurious fabrics he favored, often underpinned them with a framework of millinery wire and buckram for bombast. Though his dresses weighed up to eighteen pounds, his technical prowess ensured that the wearer moved as gracefully as a ballerina.”
Zac Posen who, as a designer unwaveringly committed to his particular vision of outsize glamour and silhouette, is poised to be the Charles James of his generation. So next spring when the Costume Institute celebrates “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” (May 8rd to August 10th, 2014) with the annual opening-night gala , you better bet Posen will be ready with dresses. “This is in preparation for the Met,” the designer said with a smile during his pre-fall presentation when a model swanned out wearing a satin dove-gray confection. It was strapless with goodness only knows what kind of interior scaffolding holding it close to the body, tucked to the waist and then, whoosh, out in waves of fabric that skimmed so elegantly along the floor the model may as well have been on a hovercraft. As if this weren’t enough, Posen inserted undulations of a slightly darker fabric to add texture and tone. Another dress with an exaggerated ball skirt was made entirely of embroidered organza.
Not everything was quite so dramatic though Posen did find a way to dramatize a white cotton poplin shirt with three tiers of fabric cascading down the back. He used a menswear-inspired gray flannel for a long-sleeved day dress with a cocoon-like cape, and a slim tulip skirt was made in a python-patterned jacquard. For anyone going to the Met, it’d be a fitting look for the morning after.
Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories
Photos: Courtesy of ZAC POSEN
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"The collection invokes a romantic femininity with a touch of whimsy. A manipulation of emotional textures, a layering of prints, and tonalities of color within a single piece evoke a modern-day Sarah Bernardt," said Zac Posen, inspirations out of the 1911 French film La Dame aux Camélias.