In a week and a half, the Chicago History Museum will open Charles James: Genius Deconstructed, taking its cues, most likely, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recent blockbuster exhibition Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.
The McQueen retrospective, which ended early August, was wildly successful, creating a fervor that attracted a record number of visitors to the museum. The exhibition displays were extravagant and the show featured hundreds of garments by the renowned designer.
Hardly as ambitious as the show at the Met, Genius Deconstructed will feature only 15 pieces. However, the petite collection showcases James’ most iconic designs from 1928 through 1958. The show promises to be stunning, as proven by the elegant-yet-edgy full page ad they’ve placed in this month’s issue of CS.
At the age of 19, James opened a hat shop in Chicago before moving to New York, where he began making dresses. James thought of his creations as works of art, as did many of his loyal customers, including Mrs. William Randolph Hearst. Unfortunately, James’ lack of business acumen or inter-personal skills left him financially unsuccessful, and while he is considered to be the father of American couture, he is little known to a broader public.
McQueen, whose untimely death shocked the public in February 2010, is a revered innovator. His couture creations were considered to be extremely fashion forward. Undeniably, McQueen was brilliant, but what is so compelling about the Chicago History Museum show is that it rightfully recognizes James as a true trailblazer, an artistic master who was creating designs comparable to McQueen’s… sixty, seventy years earlier!
Now that, my friends, is the mark of a true avant-garde artist. See for yourself…
Okay, wipe the drool off your keyboard. Charles James: Genius Deconstructed will be on display at the Chicago History Museum from October 22‚ 2011‚ through April 16‚ 2012.