Last week I saw Charles James: Beyond Fashion at The Met, though I sort of knew going in that it wouldn’t be 100% my bag. I’ve never been super in love with the elegant, tasteful aesthetic that was prevalent at the middle of the 20th century. To me, the tyranny of “good taste” is as much about class and race as it is about aesthetics (I wrote a bit about this here) and for me, it quickly gets boring.
All that said, the dresses are exquisite. They are masterpieces of design, deceptively simple until you look at the seams and the construction and the geometry. These are indeed the princess gowns for a sleek mid-century princess. The garments themselves are perfect things. But (and there’s always a but), after an hour or so of looking and sketching, something about the cool WASPy splendour started getting to me.
I sketched a dozen or so dresses and decided the answer for me would be to recontextualize them. I decided to remove them from Newport and Belgravia and to place them on the carnival midway, in the ocean and in other places they never before ventured, being worn by the sort of beings who, though purely fictional, are rarely seen dressed in such opulence.
Enjoy. There will be more to follow.