Beyond Beyond Fashion
There is a trick of my writing teacher: When we finish reading an essay, first he asks: "What is it about?" We answer, then he asks:" If that's not what the essay is about, then what is it about?" So we answer again, striving to squeeze out every drop of intelligence out of our brain cells. Repetitively, after we are willingly tortured by this same question for three more rounds, the essence of the essay shows up. This was exactly the same feeling I received from the exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion, displayed by the Costume Institution of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Throughout the exhibition, I was asked this question over and over again: If fashion is not what the exhibition about, then what?
Started from May8 and lasting until August 10, the special exhibition of Costume Institute of Metropolitan Museum presents the audience signature pieces of Charles James, an Anglo fashion designer who was active during the post-WW2 20th century in America. The exhibition is held in the special exhibition galleries on the Museum's first floor and The Costume Institute's Anna Wintour Costume Center on the ground floor, including one small adjunct hall showing documents. Fifteen evening ball gowns and about fifty ready-to-wears are displayed.
With intricate costumes, James first of all stood out as a king of fabric sculptor without crown beyond the simple definition of a fashion designer who made clothes that fit in the trend. The costumes were indeed “amazing”---- quoting the most commonly used word of the visitors. James’ original spiral cut, almost seamless design and the free draping technique are still not nearly comparable in the present day. They were not just fashion, but sculptures that go around human body with full artistry and could stand the test of pure aesthetic examination.
However, if the costumes were examined even beyond their tags of “fashion” and beyond their sculptural appearances, the intention of these designs